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Whoa, Whoa, Whoa: How This Big Spend Method Bit Back

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Debit Card Fraud

Debit Card Fraud

Our points and travel hobby encourages us to do some unnatural things.  One such item is opening bank accounts – more than many would care to admit.  More bank accounts can lead to additional bonuses, access to high spend methods, and more rewards long-term.  While I’ve tapered off picking up new bank accounts, I have plenty existing ones to tend to.  Debit card fraud recently reminded me of the importance of doing so.  Here’s what happened.

Moldy Accounts

Beyond our “normal” bank accounts, I primarily hold several other low-maintenance accounts, ones that require little, if any, action or attention to avoid fees.  A few require small monthly direct deposits to keep fee-free.  On the plus side, there aren’t any balance minimums to most of these accounts.  Again, I don’t use these accounts for normal banking needs.  And sometimes, I’m not actively using them for hobby tasks, either.  All this adds up to me infrequently checking such accounts.

A Periodic Check Takes a Turn

Every several months, I do use whatever’s in these accounts so that I’m not “wasting” the money sitting in a low/no interest-earning vehicle.  In doing so last week, I noticed a random $26.94 removal from a checking account for an Amazon purchase in mid-May.

I checked our family’s two Amazon accounts, both the order history and payment methods, and nothing even close lined up to this purchase.  The search was easy, since we aren’t Prime members and hardly shop at Amazon, anyway.

What made this situation more concerning is I hadn’t lost my debit card, I hadn’t removed it from my house in several months, and I couldn’t remember using it for a purchase in years.

Debit Card Fraud

Reporting Debit Card Fraud

I’d never experienced this type of debit card fraud up to this point.  The process for doing so was remarkably clunky compared to my credit card experiences.  I talked to one department, seemingly staffed by a third party, to shut down the card.  But this department was unable to help with issuing a new debit card or my efforts to dispute the transaction.

My second call mostly took care of that.  I requested a new card and to initiate a dispute.  The agent mentioned I had contacted the bank just under the 60-day deadline to resolve disputes.  The rep sent a pdf which I subsequently completed and returned.  The bank responded and let me know they’re on it.  Long story short, I should have the money back in my account soon.


I lucked out, as I sometimes don’t bother checking these types of accounts for several months.  I would’ve lost that money (granted, not a huge amount) if I hadn’t checked within the 60-day deadline.  And other banks may have shorter deadlines.  Much of what we do in our hobby requires ongoing care.  We can’t discount the amount of time and effort these matters require.  Inevitably, it’s not worth the time in many circumstances.  I’ll be closing some bank accounts, but probably not this one.

Have you been bitten by debit card fraud or some other hobby activity which slipped through the cracks?

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Benjy Harmon
Benjy Harmon
Benjy focuses on the intersection of points, travel, and financial independence (FI). An experienced world traveler, husband, and father, he currently roams throughout the USA close to expense-free. Benjy enjoys helping others achieve their FI and travel goals.

Responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.


  1. Same happened to me. A small charge of about $2 from a store in Nepal on a debit card which I’ve never used anywhere and which has never left my home. The bank issued a new one. I guess somebody was testing it out before charging a bigger amount.

  2. I think what you stubbled upon is why you should never, ever use a debit card beyond ATMs. Debit purchases aren’t easily disputed and don’t have the same protections as credit card transactions when it comes to fraud. I have 3 main bank accounts and haven’t used any of those debit cards in 15+ years (don’t even remember actually it could be 25 years or more on my main bank account.

    It is strange that somehow the number was compromised with such little use of that card.

  3. This is where is can be really helpful to use an accounts aggregator like Mint from Intuit. Connect all your accounts and then log in periodically and you will see them all updated, making odd stuff with obscure accounts easier to spot in time


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