My Debit Card Number Was Stolen

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I love my bank. I logged on yesterday to take care of a money transfer and I noticed a pending transaction that I didn’t recognize. I did a quick Google search for the name on the charge – SOFTCOM Technologies – and it came up with a web host located in Canada. I immediately knew…

I love my bank. I logged on yesterday to take care of a money transfer and I noticed a pending transaction that I didn’t recognize.

I did a quick Google search for the name on the charge – SOFTCOM Technologies – and it came up with a web host located in Canada.

I immediately knew something was wrong, and I took action to get the situation resolved.

 

What to Do When Your Debit Card is Lost or Stolen

Red Flags. I obviously use a web host for my sites, but I use WPEngine, which is located in Texas. I had also never heard of SoftCom and had no recollection of using them in the past. The other red flag for me is that I use my Discover Business Credit Card for all my business needs, not my personal debit card.

Report a lost ATM/Debit card immediately! I called my bank, USAA, and inquired about the pending transaction. They were great. In the matter of a few minutes, the representative was able to determine there had been two charges – one in June and one last night. Somehow I missed the June charge. After the customer service rep and I discussed the issue for a few minutes, we determined it was most likely fraud. I was transferred to USAA’s fraud department and they handled the situation in a few minutes. Once you suspect fraud, immediately contact your bank!

Problem resolved on my end. My card was canceled, a new one was sent to me, and I was informed I would receive a credit for both charges. I asked how the situation would be handled and they informed me they do a chargeback with the bank involved to collect the money.

Now to find out what my card has been used for. My curiosity got the best of me and I went back to the SoftCom site and I noticed a phone number, which I decided to call. At this point my debit card was already canceled, so what did I have to lose?

Their customer service rep asked me a few questions, and after I explained the situation, he asked for the first 2 digits of my card number and my last 2 digits to find the account being funded by the card. That didn’t narrow it down enough so I gave him the last 4 digits and he said, “OK, I’ve got your account right here. Roger Williams, right?” Wrong!

He read off the domain name and I typed it into Google. It was filled out in some Eastern European language that I am not familiar with. It obviously wasn’t mine.

The rep was really cool about the situation and said he would flag the site as fraudulent. Within minutes, the site was completely gone.

I was lucky! The entire process took about 20 minutes due to great customer service on both ends. I admit that I was lucky though. I won’t be out any money, and the thieves only made two small transactions (both in the low $20’s). Had they withdrawn more money, they probably could have made me overdraft my account. Of course, I probably would have noticed it more quickly then!

If your wallet is lost or stolen, you should immediately report it. You will lessen your losses and help prevent identity theft. Here is a story about how a stolen debit card ruined a vacation. Thankfully, Glblguy was able to make it home safely. This event prompted him to write about what to do when your debit card gets stolen.

How did they get my number? I honestly have no clue. For a couple of years, I used my ATM/Debit card as my primary means of payment, but I rarely use it anymore. I now prefer to use cash back credit cards because of the protections they offer and the cash rewards. Just be sure to pay them off every month!

How to Avoid Debit Card and ATM Scams

Unfortunately, it’s very difficult, if not impossible to avoid losing your debit card or credit card information if a vendor is hacked.

But there are actions you can take to reduce your risk, including never letting a bartender, waiter/waitress, or other individual have access to your card.

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About Ryan Guina

Ryan Guina is the founder and editor of Cash Money Life. He is a writer, small business owner, and entrepreneur. He served over 6 years on active duty in the USAF and is a current member of the IL Air National Guard.

Ryan started Cash Money Life in 2007 after separating from active duty military service and has been writing about financial, small business, and military benefits topics since then. He also writes about military money topics and military and veterans benefits at The Military Wallet.

Ryan uses Personal Capital to track and manage his finances. Personal Capital is a free software program that allows him to track his net worth, balance his investment portfolio, track his income and expenses, and much more. You can open a free account here.

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  1. Glblguy says

    Thanks for the links. Looks like your thief was “smarter” than mine taking small amounts so you might not notice. Good thing you pay attention to your transactions.

    My thief wasn’t as smart going on spending spree all in one day making it really obvious.

  2. Ryan says

    Glblguy, I think the difference was that they had your physical card and they only had the number for my card. I’m not sure how they got the number, as I rarely use the card and don’t even remember the last time I used it online.

  3. Kristen says

    Ryan, Sorry to hear what happened. I’m glad you got it resolved so quickly. However, I would definitely encourage you to monitor your credit report carefully for awhile just to make sure the thief wasn’t able to glean any more information about you to open up new credit in your name.

    My parents had their credit card number stolen a couple of years ago, and it was used to make overseas purchases. They are relatively certain a clerk at a local home store stole the number, but they couldn’t prove it.

  4. Ryan says

    Brody: Glad they caught the connection early on and hopefully they nailed the person who did it.

    Kristen: great idea. I should probably check my credit report today. Sorry to hear about your parents’ card being stolen, and hopefully it was easily resolved.

  5. Brody says

    This recently happened to my wife. It actually started when her friend, K, noticed that money was missing from her account. When K called the bank, they noticed her address and asked her if she frequented a certain sports bar in the area. K told them yes and the bank informed her that they are doing an investigation of the sports bar because they have had similar charges to other members’ credit and debit cards from the same company. The sports bar being the only common link. My wife checked her card since we had all recently been to the sports bar to watch a game, and sure enough, there were similar charges on her account equaling $150. She called the bank and they took care of it immediately.

    Stories like these show the importance of monitoring accounts on a frequent basis.

  6. [email protected] says

    Makes me nervous just thinking about it, but I generally check my personal bank account every day, plus I have credit monitoring after having my identity stolen. It’s worth the peace of mind.

  7. Mrs. Micah says

    It’s scary to think of all the ways the number can be stolen. But it’s great that your bank helped you straighten it out without any fuss (and even better, that the thief was moderate).

    Btw, just to be on the safe side, I’d check online in a week to see if my account was really credited.

  8. Ryan says

    Zhu, very true. I don’t know how I Missed it the first time, but I’m glad I dealt with companies who were understanding and stopped the fraud immediately after it was brought to their attention.

  9. Zhu says

    Taking small amounts is a very tricky thing to do because people are less likely to notice… this is why checking your account often is a smart thing to do.

    Glad to see the problem was solved quickly!

  10. Kristen says

    Good warnings! Unfortunately everyone has to be really aware of scammers these days. When it comes to using ATMs, I never use one that isn’t affiliated with my bank, and mostly they are ATMs right outside of my bank. I’m very skeptical of the random machines that you find in convenience stores and in parking lots. Not to mention the fact that even if those random machines aren’t scams, they charge you an arm and a leg to withdraw your money.

  11. Craig says

    Thanks for the videos, I always get a little nervous at the ATM machine. I never know if anyone is looking on or if I accidentally forget to close out after.

    • Ryan says

      Craig: I always cover the numbers when I input my PIN. That way if there is a skimmer it will be more difficult to get my PIN. I rarely use ATMs anyway. I prefer to use my credit card for most purchases, and rarely use cash.

  12. MLR says

    I, like Craig, always am nervous about using my cards.

    I scrutinize my bills like woah, though. Haha 🙂

  13. NatalieMac says

    I was a victim of a scam like this – the police figured that it likely happened at a gas station when I used my ATM card to pay at the pump and the pump was fitted with a skimmer. The crooks used an ATM from another bank across town to withdraw $500 out of my account on two consecutive days – a total of $1000!!!

    ATM cards do not have the same fraud protection as credit cards, and should never be used to pay at restaurants or to pay at the pump at gas stations. If you must use your ATM or debit card to pay for gas, go inside and pay the cashier directly. And use cash or a regular credit card to pay at restaurants.

    • Ryan says

      Very sorry to hear about that NatalieMac. And thanks for sharing!

      Oh, and I agree about the consumer protections that the credit cards offer. I used to use my debit card almost exclusively, but I use it once or twice a year now – usually as an ATM card or to get cash back on a purchase if I need cash (to save on ATM fee

  14. Ryan P Smith says

    Ryan,

    That is really eye opening.

    Looking back I have ran my card through many of a shady gas station ATM on road trips.

    • Ryan says

      Ryan: I pretty much only use ATMs at banks and stores like Wal-Mart nowadays, or I withdraw cash from my bank. And I use my credit card almost exclusively for purchases. CCs offer better consumer protection.

  15. John Hunter says

    Thanks for the tips. It is sad we have so many people that insist on putting their efforts into taking from society instead of putting effort into providing value and getting rewarded for doing so. It is also sad that I am not sure who you need to be more fearful of the illegal scammers or your bank. I would not be surprised if banks costs consumers more with unfair and deceptive practices that thieves do.

  16. Craig says

    @Ryan I need to cover my pin and transaction more when at the ATM. I always use it to take out money for the week, it’s easiest and there are ATM’s for my bank all over the place so I don’t have to worry about fees.

  17. Cyano says

    I just found out today $500 was taken from my checking account via ATM fraud. Never thought it would happen to me. Pls everyone, be careful, and learn from this article and by story.

  18. bella says

    this happend to me the other day,the investigations team from my bank rang me someone has used over $700.00 of my money from my visa debit card in canada,im in australia.The bank is not sure how they got my card number but i bet u its the atm skimmer.They tried multiple times everyday to ake money out from my card abd they finally succeeded.i have to woit up to 6 weeks to get my money back.please check your statements.

  19. Shelly says

    Someone got a hold of my debit card number and try to make a $126 charge twice at a gas station in CA. It was both denied, but then someone made a Exxon-Mobil purchase and it is a pending transcation. Visa Fraud called me and then they put a blocked on my debit card. Afterwards I called the bank and told them the situation. They in turn send all of what was left of my money into savings and made sure that if in case of a overdraft that the savings would not cover it. Now I would like to find out how this was done, but who knows someone could had guess the number

  20. Pat Stevens says

    I need to use debit cards because I don’t qualify for credit cards. besides, I’m unemployed and I don’t feel like paying high interest charges.

    I have a Mastercard and Visa debit card that my banks issue.

    ok, bye

  21. Kirk E Pendergras says

    I have had my debit card number stolen 3 times in the last 4 months, the last time was within 3o days of each other. This last time I didn’t use my card at all but kept it in my wallet. I never use it online either. All three times they have bought items online. I feel like they are targeting me, I just don’t know how they are getting the atm/visa number.

    • Ryan Guina says

      Kirk, it’s possible your information was stolen from a data breach at a store where you used your card. There have been several high profile data breaches within the last year or so, with millions of stolen debit and credit card numbers (along with other information). The best I can tell you is to closely monitor your account and contact your bank as soon as you notice a transaction you didn’t make. It may also be a good idea to open a credit card account or another bank account so you have a backup. I recommend using a credit card because thieves can’t drain your bank account if your number is stolen, and you have better overall protections. That said, I don’t recommend using a credit card if you have trouble with spending or paying your bill in full.

  22. Gregory C says

    A few days ago I received a phone call from my bank’s fraud department (Ally Bank). They detected a fraudulent charged on my debit card for about $500.00 at a shoe store in France. I live in the USA. They deactivate the card and the charge did not make it through. I thought everything would be fine. Then, three hours later my bank called me again and my other debit card with them was being fraudulently charged at the same place in France for a total of about $285.00. I don’t know how the crooks got the debit card numbers for two different accounts at the same time. It has me worried.

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