Someone used my debit card without permission by hacking into one of my online shopping accounts. This left me feeling angry and violated. While I had backup measures in place in case of a situation like this, it is an experience that led me to changing how I shop online going forward.
I want to share what helped me with this situation, as well as tips & tricks to help avoid this situation going forward. Here’s what to do when your account gets hacked and someone takes your money.
**Please keep in mind that I am not a financial advisor and am speaking only based on my personal experience. It is recommended to reach out to your bank/card company directly to get personal details on what this would look like for you**
- How Does Your Account Get Hacked?
- What To Do If Money is Taken Out Of Your Bank Account Without Permission
- Can I Get My Money Back if Someone Used My Debit Card?
- Do Banks Refund Unauthorized Transactions?
- Are You Liable for Unauthorized Debit Card Charges?
- How Can I Protect My Debit Card from Being Hacked?
- What Did I Do That Helped Prepare Me For This Situation?
How Does Your Account Get Hacked?
With us being in such a digital age, there are many online accounts that we have created – and those accounts often connect with one another to provide a seamless experience. This is fantastic, but also very dangerous.
If you’ve ever seen one of those emails asking you to reset your password that look like a legit email from the company, but it’s really a hacker – you know how easy it is for hackers to get personal information.
Don’t feel like you are above being hacked. It’s not just the elderly that are susceptible to hackers’ attempts.
The hacker could get lucky guessing your password. They may have gotten your password from another source and tried it on your other accounts. You may click on a Facebook post for something entertaining, or take one of those personality quizzes that make you log into your Facebook account to get your results and they get your password from there to use elsewhere.
There’s a wide variety of ways they can do this both simple and complicated – so be very careful.
Password Tip: I know it’s difficult to remember a different password for each program, so have 2 or 3 that you use and make them slightly different with each program. Something you can easily identify with that software or account.
What To Do If Money is Taken Out Of Your Bank Account Without Permission
If you notice that your account has an unauthorized charge, you should contact your bank or card company immediately.
If you aren’t checking your accounts daily (or even numerous times a day), start by making this a habit so you can recognized unauthorized charges as soon as they hit.
Typically, the bank will ask you to verify the amount of these charges, where they are from, and they may ask you other questions such as:
- Is the card still in your possession?
- Have you ever authorized anyone to use your card previously?
Once verified, the bank or card company will likely put a freeze on your card (or cancel it entirely) and sent you a new one with new card numbers.
I know it’s a pain to update all of your info with a new card #, but do not get upset with the bank for doing this – they are doing it for your safety and the safety of your finances.
If they stop your card, you can typically pick up a temporary card from your local bank to use in the meantime for daily spending, paying bills, etc.
Can I Get My Money Back if Someone Used My Debit Card?
Typically, yes. When you report the unauthorized transaction from the bank, they can attempt to stop the charge.
If stopping the charge is not an option, they will look into the situation further to get your money back.
In my situation, I’m not sure if the Bank reached out to the shopping company or if the shopping company did this on their own accord (as I reached out to them directly, as well), but the company offered me a full refund for the charges.
My bank had told me that the funds would return back to my card within 10 business days (prior to the online shopping company reaching out to me about the refund) – so you definitely should not have an issue with unauthorized charges being returned back to your account.
The process on this may vary based on your bank, so it’s recommended to reach out to your bank directly to see what that process looks like for them.
Typically, banks will do whatever they can to return your money back to you.
You will want to reach out to your bank to get all of the details on what their rules and regulations are, but typically once you report the unauthorized charges, you are not liable for any unauthorized transactions that take place.
How Can I Protect My Debit Card from Being Hacked?
Nothing is 100% secure, but here are some safety tips you can put in place to try and help prevent this from happening to you going forward:
- Use different passwords for each program you use (even if there is no card on file)
- Make sure your passwords don’t contain details about you that are commonly known or easy to guess. Words pulled from your email, name, brand, etc. as well as using numbers for well known dates, addresses, etc. are big no no’s to use in a password.
- Don’t save your payment information in any program unless you need to.
- If you do shop online, see about using a program like Apple Pay (can be used in person, too) or PayPal to add an extra layer of security to your payment information.
- Use your credit card for your transactions and then pay them off directly afterwards. If your credit card gets hacked, at least it won’t be pulling directly from your bank account funds.
- Use a prepaid card for transactions.
Those are just some of the many ways to protect yourself and your bank account.
What Did I Do That Helped Prepare Me For This Situation?
Thankfully, when someone decided to go on a $300 shopping spree on my dime, I wasn’t affected financially in regards to being strapped for paying bills, daily expenses, etc.
When I shop, I put everything I can on my credit card (hello points!) and then I pay it off each pay period. This way, none of these charges are directly connected to my bank account.
I use an app called Checkbook where I manually keep track of my finances. When I charge something to my credit card, I track it in there, then I also “set aside” my funds in my checking account so that I can use those funds to pay off my credit card.
When my account got hacked, that money pulled from my set aside money to pay off my credit card. So bills that needed to be paid were already paid from the credit card, and all I have to do is wait 10 business days for the refund to come through so I can pay off my credit card again.
This helped make this situation significantly less stressful, but definitely still upsetting given the circumstances.
I hope that these tips and tricks can help you going forward and that you never have to deal with this situation.