I discovered a debit card/online/ATM/automatic deduction transaction that I did not authorize. How do I recover my money?

Answer: Contact your bank or credit union immediately if you suspect an unauthorized transaction on your debit card or other unauthorized electronic fund transfers from your bank account.

Electronic fund transfers include ATM transactions, purchases using your debit card, some online bill payments, and payments you’ve set up to be deducted from your account automatically.

If you lost your card…

Let’s say you lost your debit card or it was stolen. If you notify your bank or credit union within two business days of discovering the loss or theft of the card, the bank can’t hold you responsible for more than the amount of any unauthorized transactions or $50, whichever is less. If you notify your bank or credit union after two business days, you could be responsible for up to $500 of any unauthorized transactions. If you wait more than 60 days after your bank or credit union sends your statement that shows an unauthorized debit, you could have to pay the full amount of any transactions that occurred after the 60-day period.


Report your lost or stolen card within two business days of when you discover it is missing so you limit your losses to $50 or less, no matter how much is charged to your card.


If someone steals the security code or PIN to your debit card or bank account, you should follow the same steps as you would if someone stole your card. You should notify your bank or credit union within two business days of discovering the loss or theft of your security code or PIN. Never write your PIN on your debit card or keep it written down in your wallet, in case your card or wallet is lost or stolen.

If you didn’t lose your card…

If an unauthorized transaction appears on your statement, but you did not lose your card, security code, or PIN or have any of them stolen, you should still notify your bank or credit union right away. Under federal law, you will not be liable for the transaction if you report it within 60 days after your account statement showing the transaction is sent to you. But if the charge goes unreported for more than 60 days, your money could be lost.

In extenuating circumstances, like lengthy travel or illness that keeps you from notifying the card issuer within the time allowed, the notification periods above must be extended.

What does the bank have to do once I report it? Can I get my money back?

Once you notify your bank or credit union, it generally has ten business days to investigate the issue (20 business days if the account has been open less than 30 days). Your bank or credit union then has three business days to report its findings to you.

If the bank or credit union can’t complete its investigation within ten (or 20) business days as applicable, it must issue a temporary credit to your account for the disputed transaction while it continues to investigate.

The bank or credit union may require you to provide written confirmation of the error if you initially provided the information in a phone conversation. If you do not follow up in writing within ten business days, the bank or credit union is not required to temporarily credit your account during the course of its investigation.

The bank or credit union must resolve the issue in 45 days, unless the disputed transactions were conducted in a foreign country, were conducted within 30 days of account opening, or were debit card point-of-sale purchases. In those cases, you may have to wait as long as 90 days for the issue to be fully resolved.

The bank or credit union must correct an error within one business day after determining that an error has occurred.

If the bank or credit union determines that the transactions were legitimate, it must provide you with written notice before taking the money that was credited to you during the investigation out of your account.

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