How do I get my money back after I discovered an unauthorized transaction or money missing from my bank account?
If the transaction was made using a debit card or other electronic fund transfers, you may have additional protections under federal law. 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 or PIN
Let’s say you lost your debit card or PIN or either 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 or credit union 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 in unauthorized transactions.
Also, if your bank or credit union sends your statement that shows an unauthorized debit, you should notify them within 60 days. If you wait longer, you could also have to pay the full amount of any transactions that occurred after the 60-day period and before you notify your bank or credit union. In order to hold you responsible for those transactions, your bank or credit union would have to show that if you notified them before the end of the 60-day period, the transactions would not have occurred.
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. Although the protections for unauthorized transactions still apply, you will still have to go through the process of recovering your funds.
If you didn’t lose your card or PIN
If an unauthorized transaction appears on your statement, but you did not lose your card, security code, or PIN or had any of them stolen, you should still notify your bank or credit union right away. At the latest, you must notify your bank within 60 days after your bank or credit union sends your statement showing the unauthorized transaction. If you wait longer, you could have to pay the full amount of any transactions that occurred after the 60-day period and before you notify your bank. In order to hold you responsible for those transactions, your bank would have to show that if you notified them before the end of the 60-day period, the transactions would not have occurred.
In extenuating circumstances, like lengthy travel or hospitalization that keeps you from notifying the bank 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). The bank or credit union must correct an error within one business day after determining that an error has occurred. 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 generally issue a temporary credit to your account for the amount of the disputed transaction, minus a maximum of $50, while it continues to investigate.
In certain circumstances, however, it does not have to issue a temporary credit. For example, the bank or credit union may require you to provide written confirmation of the error if you initially provided the information by telephone. If you are asked to follow up in writing and you do not do so 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 then 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.
If the bank or credit union determines that the transactions were in fact authorized, it must provide you with written notice before taking the money that was credited to you during the investigation out of your account.