What Happens When I Lose My Debit Card?

Check your wallet again. Check your pockets. Don’t forget the back pockets. Did you leave it on the desk? In the car? By the computer when you were logging into your bank account? Are you sure you looked everywhere? Or did you lose your debit card for good?

A lost debit card is a big inconvenience. Not only is it your primary link to your chequing account, your account could be jeopardized if it falls into the wrong hands. And how do you get a new one?

First and foremost, you need to make an effort to get your debit card back. Call the last few stores you used it in and ask if anyone picked it up. Retrace your steps and do what you can to track it down. It’s much easier to recover your lost card than replacing it. But if you’ve given up looking, it’s time to order a new card.

Start by calling your bank or credit union and telling them your card is lost. Don’t delay on this. Do it as soon as possible. Your financial institution can cancel the card and prevent it from being used for any additional purchases. If you wait too long, you could be held responsible for any unauthorized charges made before you report the loss.

When you’re on the phone with the bank, they’ll ask you to review your most recent transactions in case your card was used without your authorization. If the card was used while it was missing, you’ll have to file a fraud report. In many cases, once you’ve signed paperwork affirming the charges weren’t made by you, the money will be reimbursed to you. The details on this depend on the fine print your bank gave you when you opened the account and varies between institutions. Generally, as long as you report the loss right away and cooperate with your bank in any investigations they conduct, you should be able to recover any money you lose.

If your card was stolen and used to make purchases, you may also want to file a police report. Do this by looking up your local police service’s non-emergency number and explain to them what happened. Depending on the dollar amount of the fraudulent charges made using your card, you might need a police report to get your money back. The police can also use the information you provide to track down the people who stole your card.

Depending on the circumstances under which your card went missing, you might also benefit from checking your credit score. Do this to make sure your personal information wasn’t used to open more accounts in your name. This is extremely rare, especially if your card was simply lost. But it only takes a few minutes to check your credit score for free, so there’s no harm in making sure. Checking your credit doesn’t affect your score.

The next step is to get a new debit card issued. You don’t need to sign up for a new chequing account to get a new debit card. Your bank or credit union will simply make a new card, link it to your existing account, and mail it to you. Your new debit card might have a different number than the old one for security reasons. Make sure the bank has your correct address to avoid delays.

The Big Five banks and some others will give you the option of a temporary debit card to use while you wait for your permanent one. To take advantage of this you’ll need to go to a branch and pick it up. The bank’s telephone representative will tell you what kind of identification you’ll need to show to get your temporary card.

Note that sometimes you’ll have to pay a fee to replace your debit card. For example, PC Financial will replace your debit card once a year for free if it’s lost or stolen. After that, each replacement is subject to a $4.97 charge.

When your new card arrives, you’ll need to follow the instructions that come with it to activate it. It’s a good idea to change your PIN at this time, too. If your old card was stolen, keeping the same PIN makes it easier for your new card to be taken and used without your permission. Choose a random four- to six-digit number that’s difficult to guess. Don’t use your birthday!

That’s all there is to it. Look for your card, call your bank, and your new debit card will arrive in the mail.

Everyone makes mistakes, but don’t make a habit of losing your debit card. It’s a serious inconvenience to replace the card, and you could have to pay fees and lose access to your money while you wait. Ensure you have your card after you use it to make a purchase or withdraw money, and try not to lose it again.


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