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How Can Someone Use My Debit Card Without Having It?

You may find it surprising that criminals can use your credit or debit card without physically having it. This worrying form of fraud has become increasingly common and sophisticated, and many wonder how it is even possible.

In this blog post, we’ll explore the different fraudsters’ methods to access your debit card information and the steps you can take to protect yourself from falling victim to this financial crime.

Debit card fraud

Debit card fraud is the unauthorised use of a debit card. Also, it is the theft of debit card information for fraudulent purposes. Debit card fraud occurs when someone gains access to your debit card details and uses this information to make fraudulent charges, money withdrawals or transfers from your bank account.

Thieves can obtain your card number, expiry date, and security code using different techniques. They can use skimming devices placed on ATMs or point-of-sale payment terminals or phishing scams where they trick you into revealing your card details or hacking into databases that store card information.

Once they have access to your debit card details, fraudsters can use them to carry out a fraudulent transaction to the detriment of the cardholder.

Debit card scams and credit card fraud are serious threats. No one is safe from it. Thus, every individual should be aware of it and protect themselves.

Can someone use your debit card without the physical card?

It’s a common misconception that having a debit card in your wallet is fraud-proof.

Unfortunately, there are a few different ways that criminals can get hold of your card details without physically stealing the card itself. They rely on the victim’s volatility and hope you won’t pick any clues about their suspicious activity.

One such way is the use of ATM card-scanning devices. It helps scammers get your card number, security code, or PIN when you withdraw cash.

In addition, malicious individuals can access your old bank accounts, statements, or debit cards or redirect you to fraudulent websites where they may trick you into providing your card details. It may seem unlikely, but scammers are constantly improving their methods. Do you look at your account balance and identify unauthorized transactions? You may be a victim.

How to detect debit card fraud

To stay vigilant against debit card fraud, it’s crucial to regularly monitor your bank account for any suspicious or unusual activity. Be on the lookout for unfamiliar purchases on your bank statement, withdrawals from unknown locations, or unexpected payment issues.

Checking your bank account balance and reviewing transactions daily using a mobile or online banking app lets you stay informed and detect any fraudulent charges. To protect yourself against debit card fraud, regularly monitor your bank account for suspicious or unexplained activity.

Be alert if you see unfamiliar purchases, money withdrawals from unknown places, or unexpected payments on your bank statement. Checking your bank account balance and reviewing your transactions using your mobile or online banking app is the best way to stay informed and detect fraud.

How to prevent debit card fraud

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Criminals often choose frequented places to commit fraud, such as petrol stations, bars and restaurants, retail stores, online platforms, and unfamiliar places. Petrol stations are particularly vulnerable to skimming devices. Therefore, it is safer to pay inside or use a credit card.

Bars, restaurants, gas stations, and retail shops can be risky when you hand your card to a waiter. It is often advisable to use contactless payment methods or to pay by cash or credit card.

Online shopping scams are common. Therefore it is important to only enter personal details and card numbers on trusted sites. It is also worth considering using secure payment options such as PayPal.

There are many methods of how criminals get debit card data. We provide you with several things you should be aware of:

Offline account takeover

Offline account takeovers occur when criminals access personal information. The method is hacking into mailboxes and stealing bank statements or other documents.

Using your bank account information, they can carry out identity theft. They may try to change the victim’s postal address at the bank, then order a new card and activate it.

Person by the ATM

Skimming device

There are three types of skimming devices: separate, overlaid and internal. The separate card skimming devices let criminals hold your card for a few seconds. Then they can swipe it through a reader to extract its data.

In the case of overlay devices, criminals place the card reader on top of a legitimate reader, sometimes adding a video camera or PIN to capture the PIN, and a fake debit card is created to make unauthorized purchases.

Internal devices are a more advanced method. Criminals install skimming devices in terminals that intercept data messages sent over the lines. Such devices can be complicated to detect without opening the machines.

Hijacked terminals

This method compromises the operating system. The targets are ATMs with remote control functions left in the default (and insecure) settings. Hijacked bank ATMs may also be modified and used instead of intact terminals.

Buying the data

Criminals can buy stolen card data. It is a low-complexity, medium-scale attack method. In the underground market, criminals can easily purchase card data for as little as $1. Of course, the quality can vary.

Data breaches

A data breach occurs when criminals bypass security measures to gain access to large amounts of card data held by merchants and other data holders. To combat this situation, the banking industry is making progress in implementing secure data storage methods. However, cybercriminals still find opportunities to exploit vulnerabilities.

How to secure a debit card?

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To secure your debit card, you can always take extra precautions:

  • Regularly review and check for illegal debit card transactions.
  • Protect your bank statements from falling into the hands of others.
  • Be vigilant and monitor your debit cards.
  • Be careful where you store your personal and financial data.
  • When shopping online, make sure you use secure websites and payment methods. Look for the padlock symbol and the letter ‘https’ in the website address to indicate a secure connection.

Report debit card fraud

Take immediate action if you notice that your debit card has been lost or stolen. It may be subject to fraudulent charges.

First, you should contact the financial institution or credit card company to report possible credit or debit card fraud. You can usually find bank or credit union contact details on your statement, online account, or the payment apps like Apple Pay. Once you have notified the credit card issuer, it is advisable to follow up on the status of your claim.

Most financial institutions provide a phone number for fraudulent debit card transactions. If you use online banking, you may be able to send a message to your bank via the app.

Additional measures to protect against debit card fraud

Once you notice someone has applied for credit or opened a bank account in your name, act quickly. There are a few steps you can take:

  • Contact credit reporting agencies.
  • Contact the lender or bank concerned.
  • File a police report.
  • Report to the Federal Trade Commission.
  • Place a fraud alert on your credit report.
  • Review your credit report for fraudulent activity.
  • Take steps to protect yourself from identity theft.


How can someone use your debit card without the card at a store?

Someone can use a debit card without a physical card at a store through various methods such as online purchases, contactless payments, or mobile wallet apps. For these operations, you only need card information stored electronically or to link the card to a digital payment platform.

How did someone get my debit card info?

There are several ways someone can get hold of your debit card information. It can include skimming, where criminals use devices to capture your card information when you use an ATM or payment terminal.

Criminals can also target businesses and monetary institutions to gain access to large amounts of cardholder data. Fraudsters can also trick you into providing your card information. They can do it by using fraudulent emails, text messages or websites.

Alternatively, someone may steal your credit or debit card. It allows the thief to use the information to carry out illegal transactions. Another possible way is when your card details are exposed to hackers on a website.

Can I find out who used my card?

Unfortunately, you don’t have direct access to information about who used your card. However, you should report any unauthorized transactions immediately to your card issuer, who may investigate.

These financial institutions can provide more information about the transactions and take appropriate action to resolve the problem.

Can someone use my debit card without my permission?

Yes, someone can use your debit cards without your permission. Debit card fraud can happen in several ways, such as stealing card information, using skimming devices, hacking the internet or making unauthorized transactions.

Therefore, it is crucial to take precautions. Also, if you notice any unauthorised activity, report it immediately to your bank or card issuer.

Živilė Šarkauskaitė

Živilė is a writer with a diverse background, having worked with tech start-ups and pioneering brands across various industries. Her profound interest in progress and innovation drives her to the field of Fintech, a realm that sparks her curiosity and inspires her to share insights with others.

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