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What To Do If Someone Opens a Debit Card in Your Name

Loriana Buhuri-Winters — Writer for Top10
A man who realized that someone opened a debit card in his name.
The shock of unauthorized charges on your account is a feeling I wouldn't wish on anyone. If you've been a victim of debit card fraud, you're not alone.

In fact, over 23.9 million Americans have had their identities stolen by scammers. As an expert on ID theft protection services, I've witnessed the full range of their schemes. From opening fraudulent accounts in your name or sending phishing emails posing as legitimate companies.

But don't despair—you have the power to fight back. I'll show you how to protect your data online with the proper knowledge and specific steps.

Signs of Debit Card Fraud

Debit card fraud can have devastating financial impacts—59% of ID theft victims lost $16.4B in 2021—and recovering your identity can be an enormous hassle. Recognizing the early warning signs of identity theft is crucial for preventing further damage. Reporting suspected fraud to the relevant authorities can stop thieves from victimizing others.

Here are some signs that may indicate someone has opened a debit card in your name:

  • Mailing address: One of the first things you should do when setting up online banking is to allow alerts for address changes. If your mailing address gets randomly updated without your knowledge, that's a huge red flag.
  • Unfamiliar transactions on your bank statement: If you notice transactions on your bank statement that you don't recognize, it could be a sign that someone has opened a debit card in your name.
  • Unexpected cards or account information in the mail: If you receive a debit card in the mail that you didn't apply for or account information for an account you didn't open, it may indicate that someone has opened an account in your name.
  • Your card is unexpectedly declined: If your legitimate debit card is declined when you attempt to make a purchase, it could be a sign that someone has drained your account using a fraudulent debit card.
  • You're receiving calls from debt collectors: Receiving calls from debt collectors regarding debts you don't recognize could indicate that someone has opened accounts in your name without your knowledge.
  • Your credit report shows unfamiliar accounts: Regularly review your credit report to identify any accounts opened without your consent, which may indicate identity theft.

How to Resolve Unauthorized Debit Card Issues

Securing your personal information can help you regain control and prevent unauthorized access. If you notice any suspicious activity on your account, follow these steps:

1. Report the Issue to the Bank

Call your bank immediately to report any fishy activity on your account. The bank representative will guide you through filing a fraud claim and may lock or close your compromised account.

You may also need to confirm some of your recent transactions and provide personal information to verify your identity. Then, close your account and open a new one.

Additionally, you may need to report the incident to your local police department. You'll need to provide a report, proof of the theft, and a photo ID such as a driver's license or passport.

2. Secure Your Personal Financial Information

Keep your PIN, passwords, and other confidential data strictly private. Consider using services like Aura or LifeLock for added peace of mind. They actively monitor your Social Security Number and personal information to help protect you from identity theft.

Freezing your credit reports is another effective way to prevent unauthorized access and give you greater control over your credit information. Make a habit of regularly reviewing your credit reports to spot any suspicious activity.

Legitimate companies will never unexpectedly ask for passwords or account details. Be wary of unsolicited calls or emails requesting sensitive personal information.

Risks of Unauthorized Debit Card Opening

In 2023, 353 million individuals were affected by data compromises, including data breaches, leakage, and exposure. When someone opens a debit card in your name without your authorization, it can lead to several serious risks, including:

  • Financial losses: The person who opened the card can make unauthorized purchases or withdraw money from your account, leading to significant financial losses.
  • Overdraft fees: If fraudulent transactions cause your account to be overdrawn, your bank may charge you overdraft fees.
  • Damaged credit: While debit card fraud doesn't directly affect your credit score, unpaid bills resulting from unauthorized purchases can be sent to collections, which may indirectly harm your credit.
  • Difficulty disputing charges: Disputing unauthorized charges and recovering stolen money can be difficult and time-consuming, particularly if the fraud goes unnoticed for a while.
  • Compromised personal information: If someone opens a debit card in your name, they probably have your personal information, like your Social Security number. This could lead to more serious identity theft in the future.
  • Legal issues: In some cases, you may be held responsible for the fraudulent charges if you don't report the fraud promptly.
  • Emotional distress: Dealing with the aftermath of identity theft can be stressful and emotionally taxing, as it can take significant time and effort to resolve the issue and protect your finances.

If someone gets a debit card using your identity, act fast. Delays could let them drain your accounts or make fraudulent charges. This is a serious problem that requires your prompt attention to protect yourself.

How to Prevent Debit Card Fraud

Monitor Your Credit Record

Regularly monitoring your credit record through a tool like Identity Guard is a critical preventative against unauthorized debit card and account activity. It will reveal any suspicious credit checks, new accounts, or other identity theft-related issues that may have occurred.

Services like Annual Credit Report and MyFICO provide free access to your credit report statements, allowing you to track your full history closely.

Act quickly if you detect any unauthorized or fraudulent activity on your report. Thoroughly investigate the situation, take steps to secure your accounts, and initiate the appropriate legal and financial protections.

Don't Fall for Imposter Calls

If you get an unexpected call claiming to be from your bank, don't blindly trust it. Ask for the caller's name and direct number, and tell them you'll call back through the main customer service line. This verifies that you're actually talking to a legitimate employee.

Diligently Review Documents

Carefully review documents like employment contracts, non-disclosures, and offer letters before you sign them. If anything seems off or you need clarification, take your time to understand it thoroughly.

Overlooking fine print can lead to big headaches, such as legal disputes or financial consequences. If you discover any suspicious activity related to unauthorized debit cards, you should immediately report ID theft to the Federal Trade Commission.

Pay extra attention to those tiny footnotes and disclaimers, especially with new service contracts like cell providers. Companies can try to slip in complicated terms that could cost you if you don't study them.

Prioritize Online Account Security

Avoid that tempting "save login" option for online accounts, even if it's a site you trust, like your bank or Amazon. Hackers can potentially access those stored credentials and hijack your information. It's a minor inconvenience for much bigger security.

Also, be cautious about the information you share on social media or in emails. Public personal data can be used by fraudsters to answer security questions and access accounts.

Vet Your New Bank’s Fraud Policies

When opening new bank accounts, ask about their fraud protection policies and safeguards against unauthorized access to your funds. Consider using services like Zander Identity Theft to protect against financial fraud, including synthetic identity theft. Being proactive with multiple layers of security is the best way to protect your finances.

Handling Unauthorized Debit Card Openings

Dealing with ID theft and unauthorized access to your accounts can be a serious and stressful issue. However, you can take steps to protect yourself. Closely monitor your credit reports, be wary of suspicious calls or documents, and use powerful online account security measures.

With cutting-edge monitoring tools from companies like these LifeLock alternatives and expert guidance, you can rest assured that your sensitive data is safe from the ever-evolving risks of identity fraud.

» Explore identity theft insurance and whether it's worth it.

Loriana Buhuri-Winters — Writer for Top10
Top10 writer Loriana uses her experience in loans and data security to help readers protect their information. She offers practical tips on ID theft prevention, writing in a way that makes it easy to understand and use these strategies effectively.