Someone took money from my account without my permission. What can I do?
Answer: If someone takes money out of your account without your permission, you should immediately call your bank or credit union and ask them to return your money and prohibit future debits from that person.
If the withdrawal was made as an unauthorized debit card or other electronic fund transfer, you may have additional protections under federal law. Electronic fund transfers generally include ATM transactions, transactions using your debit card, some payments you make through online bill payment, and payments authorized to be deducted from your account automatically.
If you lost your card…
If you lost your card, code, or other access device, or it was stolen, and you notify your bank or credit union within two business days of discovering the loss or theft of the card, code or access device, you cannot be made to pay more than $50 or the transaction amount, whichever is less. If you notify your bank or credit union after two business days, you could have to pay as much as $500. If you wait more than 60 days after the transmittal date of your next statement, you could have to pay the full amount of any other unauthorized transactions that happen after the 60-day period.
If you didn’t lose your card…
If you did not lose your card or have it stolen, but an unauthorized transaction appears on your statement, you must notify the bank or credit union within 60 days of the date of the statement to avoid being held responsible for that unauthorized transaction.
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 10 business days to investigate the issue (20 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 10 (or 20) business days as applicable, it must credit your account for the full disputed amount less a maximum of $50 while the investigation continues.
The bank or credit union must resolve the issue in 45 days, unless the 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.
There are instances, such as tax liens or wage garnishment, where someone may take money out of your account to pay back a debt you owe and you will not be able to recover the funds.
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.