Last Updated on June 26, 2021 by Chin Yi Xuan

What to do when you find out that your credit or debit card is compromised?

When your card is compromised, it could be one or a combination of the few reasons below:

  • Your credit card or debit card is stolen/lost.
  • Your PIN is compromised.
  • Your card is used for online transaction which is not authorized by you.
  • Your card’s details are leaked by the platforms you linked your card to. 
  • And many more.

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What to do when you learn that your card may have been compromised:

  1. Don’t panic. Call your bank’s 24-hour fraud line for help immediately (google for the number if you are unsure). In most cases, the operator will cancel/freeze your card to prevent anyone from using the card for transactions.
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    If no money is lost from this, then make a bank appointment for a new card. You may be charged a small fee for the new card. If money is lost in this incident, proceed with the next steps.
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  2. If money is lost: File a police report on this matter. Your bank will need the report for further documentation at Step 3.
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  3. Next, fill up a charge dispute form, which is usually available to be downloaded at your bank’s website. Then, submit the (1) completed form, (2) your police report, and (3) other available supporting proof/documents (eg. Receipts/statements/transaction slips).Remember to make a copy of your reports and documents to support your claims.
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  4. The whole dispute investigation can take up to 90 days*. Until then, the only thing to do is to be patient and wait.

*As per the details on HSBC’s Card Dispute Form.

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Can you get your money back?

Perhaps the next question you have is:

Can I get my money back?

The short answer is: It depends. Let’s discuss further on this matter:

  1. Your card is a Credit Card

If your compromised card is a credit card, chances are you’ll not be liable for the loss. Meaning, there is a decent probability that your bank will refund you for the money lost.   

According to Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM)’s credit card guideline in 2019, credit card issuer cannot hold cardholder liable for unauthorized transactions, unless the issuer manages to prove that the cardholder has:

  • Acted fraudulently;
  • Delayed in notifying the issuer as soon as reasonably practicable after having discovered the loss or unauthorized use of the credit card;
  • Poorly management of PIN or card

Note that I tweaked the sentences shorter. Please refer to Section 15 of the BNM guideline for an accurate representation. An example of HSBC’s credit card’s agreement below shows that credit card holders are indeed protected as per BNM’s guideline:

 

HSBC credit card contract
Clauses are put in place to protect cardholders from unauthorized transactions.

 

In addition, MasterCard, Visa, and AMEX have their own liability protection in place to protect cardholders from losses due to unauthorized transactions.

Simply put, if you report your lost/compromised credit card immediately, it is likely you are in a good position to reclaim your monetary losses.

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  1. Your card is a Debit Card

Now, if the lost/compromised card is a debit card, things are less likely to go in your favour.

Reason being, unlike credit cards, there is actually no exact ‘debit card guideline’ issued by BNM to protect debit card holders against frauds. Well, at least I couldn’t find it online.

Moreover, things are even less in the favour of debit card holders when we look into the fine print of the T&C of a debit card. As you can see below from CIMB’s debit card T&C, liabilities from loss of card or theft are fully the responsibility of the cardholder.

CIMB Debit Card T&C
Debit cards’ T&C are less in favour of users in the event of fraud.

As such, debit card holders are almost at the mercy of banks in any claim disputes.

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  1. Whose money is lost? Yours, or the bank’s?

Next, a million-dollar question:

Why such a huge difference between credit cards versus debit cards when it comes to money lost from unauthorized transactions?

Reason being, when people fraudulently use your credit card, they’re spending the money of your credit card issuer. Until you pay your credit card due, the loss belongs to the credit card company.

However, when people fraudulently use your debit card, they’re spending money that you have in your bank account. Meaning, the money leaves your account instantly, regardless of the transaction is fraudulent or not.

As a result, this difference alone produces a huge disparity in how the losses are treated, and how fast your money can be retrieved.

For better understanding, I highly recommend you to watch this video featuring Frank Abagnale, which is a con-man turned US’s federal agent. He is now a consultant for financial and fraud consultancy firm. In this video, he explains why credit card is superior than debit cards in fraud protection.

Frank Abagnale - Catch Me If You Can
Famous con-man turned US Federal Agent, Frank Abagnale, explains why credit card is safer relative to debit card.

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Takeaways & How to Prevent Bank Card Frauds

There are many ways to prevent or avoid card fraud. Many of them are really common sense and you can find a good guide from Maybank here. Below, I list down some less talked about, but equally practical ideas:

  1. Use Credit Card instead of Debit Card

While credit cards have always been linked with poor spending behavior and debts, it is extremely useful for people that practice financial discipline.

Using a credit card for online transactions allows you to gain legal fraud protection as outlined by the guideline from BNM.

In comparison, debit card does not enjoy such clear protection guideline from the authorities.

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  1. Use a Prepaid Card (eg. BigPay)

If getting a credit card is an issue (eg. Poor spending behaviour), then consider using a prepaid card instead.

The good thing with prepaid cards like BigPay, is you can keep your card balance very small and only reload the card whenever you want to transact.

In addition, BigPay also comes with an app that allows you to freeze your card directly from the app. As such, this allows you to respond immediately after realizing that your card is missing or stolen.

Worse comes to worst, if your card is used for unauthorized transactions, the most you’d lose are the money you reloaded in your prepaid card.   

p.s. Feel free to use my BigPay promo code: APKJOUSDBM when you open your BigPay account! Once you activated your card, both you and I will receive RM10 on our card respectively.   

Bigpay freeze card
Users can freeze their BigPay card via the BigPay app once they notice that their card is missing.

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  1. Avoid bringing Debit Card with you when you are out

If you have decided to not use a debit card, then stop bringing them with you when you are out.

This prevents the card to be stolen or missing, and falls into the hands of people with bad intentions.

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  1. Reduce transaction limit on your debit card

Lastly, if you really cannot leave the house without your debit card, at least limit how much can be transacted via your debit card.

As an example, CIMB debit cards have an RM10,000 daily transaction limit by default. It is wise to reduce the limit to minimize the impact of your losses in the unfortunate event of fraud.

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My Personal Experience with Card Fraud

A few weeks ago, someone tried to use my card details to initiate a Uber transaction in the UK. 

As a result, my card was compromised and I had to arrange with my bank to make a new card. Fortunately, no money was lost from this as the money was immediately re-credited into my account. 

Nevertheless, this serves as a good reminder for us all to be very careful with the platforms/organization that we share our card details with. If you are to link your card with a platform/an app, avoid using your debit card and instead, use a credit card or prepaid card. 

 

Unauthorized Transaction
Avoid exposing or sharing your debit card details whenever possible. Use a credit card or prepaid card instead!

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No Money Lah’s Verdict

So, there you have it – what you need to do in an event of your bank card being compromised.

If you were in an emergency situation and found this post, I hope this article is helpful to you! Fingers crossed your situation has been resolved and please take preventative measures mentioned in this article to protect yourself!

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If you have any questions, feel free to leave your comment in the comment section below – I’ll do my best to help! 👇