Debit Card Fraud - What should you do?

Debit Card KnightProtecting Yourself Against Debit Card Fraud

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What should you do if you are a victim of debit card fraud?

If you are, or think you are a victim of fraud, it is important to deal with the incident as soon as possible. When you report the incident, your financial institution will probably want to ask you questions about the circumstances of the loss to ensure that you did not authorize the transaction or that you did not contribute to the loss. As well, you should keep a written record outlining the circumstances of the incident, all correspondence and notes on who you spoke to, when, and issues covered.

  • Notify your financial institution immediately in order to commence an investigation. Your financial institution must inform you that:
    • they will investigate the unauthorized/fraudulent transaction;
    • a determination of any reimbursement will stem from this investigation;
    • they will respond to your report of an unauthorized transaction as soon as possible, but in no later than 10 business days; and
    • during the course of an investigation, they may require a signed written statement or affidavit, which may result in a temporary suspension of the 10 day time limit (until the requested information is received).
  • Call the police to make a report.
  • Research your rights.
  • Be aware that if – as a result of the investigation – your financial institution is not reimbursing your full losses, they are responsible for showing that, on the balance of probabilities, you contributed to the unauthorized use of your debit card. If you are not satisfied with this explanation, speak with your branch manager.
  • If the matter cannot be settled at the branch level, the financial institution must provide information on how their dispute resolution process works, who to contact next and how long each step should take. You are entitled to this information in writing if your problem cannot be resolved after you first complained, or if you have not received a response to your complaint.
  • If you have contacted your bank or trust and loan company's Ombudsman (Note: An Ombudsman is an impartial body that investigates complaints from individuals and small businesses about financial institution services) and the problem still can't be settled, contact the Ombudsman for Banking Services and Investments (OBSI), formerly the Canadian Banking Ombudsman (CBO).
  • If you have an account with a credit union or a caisse populaire, and your problem has not been resolved at the branch level contact your provincial or territorial regulator.
  • You can also contact the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada if you believe your financial institution has not lived up to the Canadian Code of Practice for Consumer Debit Card Services or to find out about your financial institution's complaint resolution process. The FCAC is the federal government agency that monitors banks and trust and loan companies' adherence to the Code.

Reminder: During the dispute resolution process, financial institutions have agreed that cardholders should not be unreasonably restricted from the use of funds that are the subject of the dispute.