Can the Bank Track Who Used My Debit Card?

Being a victim of debit card fraud is never an easy situation. It involves lots of contact with your bank and may require you to file a police report to get your money back. But once money recovery is no longer an issue, you may be wondering if banks can track who used your stolen debit card. 

The Two Kinds of Debit Card Fraud

Debit card fraud occurs when someone uses your debit card or bank information to make purchases without your authorization. There are typically two kinds of fraud.

  • In-person. Otherwise known as card-present fraud, it occurs when your card is stolen and used to create a counterfeit card to make unauthorized transactions at a store. 
  • Remote fraud. Sometimes referred to as card-not-present fraud, it occurs when someone uses your debit card fraudulently to make purchases, especially online. 

Any purchase, whether in-person or remote, leaves a paper trail that allows banks to see where your card was used. However, although banks have purchase information, tracking who used it is not always a straightforward matter. Your card must first be used to be tracked, and though it becomes clear what the thief has purchased, this may or may not be helpful to you.

Identifying Card Users

In the case of remote fraud, tracking the individual is often impossible. In-person fraud is also more difficult to catch than you may think. People usually pay as they are leaving an establishment, which makes it difficult for police to catch impersonators in the act. 

Your best chance of catching the thief is for law enforcement to use transaction information to determine the exact time your stolen card was used. It’s then possible for them to use store surveillance to identify the individual responsible.

While catching the thief may seem critical, tracking may not be worth your time. If the amount stolen from you is small, identifying the culprit is generally not helpful as your bank will usually refund your money. 

Assets Recovery Depends on Swift Action

Thankfully, funds recovery depends on how quickly you report the loss or theft of your debit card, not whether or not the police catch the person responsible. Federal law protects the victims of debit card fraud as long as you report the theft quickly. If you notify your bank of the theft before charges are made, you are not liable for fraudulent purchases.