How Could They Have Gotten Our Debit Card Numbers?

Updated on November 14, 2012
N.N. asks from Ecorse, MI
21 answers

Hello Mama's,

When checking our banking account yesterday I noticed a charge and several other charges on our account. I immediately called the bank to dispute the charges. The bank and every department was closed due to the holiday. When calling the bank this morning the rep informed us that the charge was made on my husband's card of whom was sitting right there durning the call and confirmed he had not made any purchases nor lost his card to which he pulled out to confirm the numbers with the rep. The rep closed his card and requested and new one ( I will do the same with mine once we recv his). Started a claim set for investigation. My husband would like to know the address listed for the illegal purchases to be sent to but of course they will not give us that info.

We are left thinking how could this have happened? Has this ever happened to you and you found out what happened?

Just trying to figure out how to prevent this from happening again!


1 mom found this helpful

What can I do next?

  • Add yourAnswer own comment
  • Ask your own question Add Question
  • Join the Mamapedia community Mamapedia
  • as inappropriate
  • this with your friends

So What Happened?

We had that thought process and were thinking that they had to be really quick in order to get the nubers off of the front and back.
We did back track the weekend which was just full off grocery store and gas station stops, Oh and a Target stop. Hmmm..

@ Lisa-No for the most part we swiped at the pump.

@ Carrie B- Nope I am confident that is not the case and you are wrong. I check the acct more than he does so I would know of all purchases before him just as it turned out to be yesterday. We share all passwords and acct info. Thanks for sharing your theory tho.

SWH-After 2 days of processing, we filed a claom and the bank returned the amount and started an investigation.

More Answers


answers from Minneapolis on

It's actually very common. I work for a financial institution and have had fraud on my own card and my ex's as well. We traced ours back to an ATM in Barcelona we both used. We were only able to track it back because there was fraud on both of our cards.

It's not your bank that had the error, its somewhere you used your card your number was "skimmed". It's not your average every day thief because they were able to make a new card with a magnetic strip and that takes skill and technology. Someone using a card they actually stole is not very common anymore.

Once your card it blocked, its done. You should have all the money refunded to your account. Debit cards are safer than checks because once they are blocked, the connection to your account is gone. With checks, they still have your account number and some end up closing their account.

Yes, its very frustrating but it sounds like its resolved.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

It is common.

Since we have a lot of charges run through our card due to running our business and expenses, I reconcile my cards daily. Just last week there was a charge from Thrifty car rental (a company we do spend about $600/month with) for $350 and my husband had not been out of town that week nor rented a car.

Another time, we were on vacation and someone had a shopping spree online. The funny part was that the idiot who used the card, used my address for the shipping and used their own email address. Of course, the bank followed through and found the person. As for the merchandise, it all came to my house! I called the companies and told them it was fraud and they told me to keep the merchandise rather than send it back.

We are now going through extra security precautions because hubby's laptop was stolen last week. It had a lot of personal information in it so we put a freeze on our credit to protect our perfect credit score. If someone tries to get credit, we are immediately contacted.

Good luck.. It is a mess and there are a ton of con artists out there.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Minneapolis on

All the previous answers were great so I won't repeat them except to say it's very, very easy these days to steal card information.

Checks are even easier to forge! Anyone who receives a check from you can buy a box of blank check stock for $20 and print their own checks, complete with your or their name, and use them to buy everything and anything. We just had that happen to us.

Because of all this fraud, I have Lifelock. Not only do I use credit and debit cards quite often, but because of my job my personal information is in the hands of waaaay too many people outside our organization. I'd say there are easily 50-60 banks I've had to provide all my information to for various accounts (even though it's for a business - Patriot Law rules in effect) so there are literally hundreds of people who've had their paws on every single confidential thing about me. (Even my weight - darned driver's license!) I know that it only takes one disgruntled employee somewhere to ruin my credit in a very, very bad way. And although Lifelock can't stop them from doing this, they have the best coverage to help you fix the damage done. I'm very lucky that my company recognizes the risk I have to take for them and they at least reimbuse me for the cost of the Lifelock.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from San Diego on

It is far easier to get the card number than people think. Some cards have RFID which means it "broadcasts" your number and anyone with a reader can pick it up. Readers aren't very expensive and fit in a backpack or other bag. All the person needs to do is stand near you.
Often gas stations or ATMS or other car readers that are not heavily monitored are easy to install a card skimmer. When you insert your card for the transaction the skimmer will capture all of your information while allowing your transaction to go through so you can't tell it's happening.
It is not uncommon that employees are responsible for stealing card information during a transaction. It's important to have your card visable at all times during a transaction. All it takes is a swipe under the counter, out of sight, to capture your information.
There is also the possibility of company systems being hacked and information being stolen that way.
We've had our card information stolen a couple times. One time they charge a really small amount, $4 and some change, to see if it goes through. If it does and is not disputed they go back and wipe you out, charging you for thousands. The second time they were using our card information to buy credit reports from one of the credit bureaus. They weren't trying to buy our credit report, but they were trying to buy ones for people they had been able to steal Social Security information from. We had our cards in our hands both times.
It happens to the best of us. You are doing the best thing you can in checking your account on a regular basis and questioning any charges you do not recognize. There are only so many precautions you can take.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Seattle on

ETA. You CAN'T stop it from happening again. But you can make it a pain for the thief & buyers:

Have several accounts.

I have an input only acct (pay checks, etc) that NEVER gets used for purchases. I transfer money out into a bill pay acct, and a personal spending acct. my personal spending acct. only ever has small amts in it. I pretty much transfer on a daily basis. That way I never lose a LOT of money all in one swipe. I only deposit the ammt I'm paying on my bill, so that acct is nearly always empty (money for literally 60 seconds tops), and my daily spending acct, for a few hours.

Accts that have a few hundred in them at any given point sell for $20. Accts that have several thousand sell for around $100-$1000.

Credit Scores ALSO sell on the black market, btw. A good score costs more. Some people use good scores to set up their own cards (ID Theft) that they keep in good standing. Other people use good scores to slash and burn spend. It's part of why you want to keep an eye on your ACCOUNTS opened, even if your score is good / there isn't noticeable fraud.

It is sooooo easy to get card numbers

Imprints, scanners (some people put devices on swipe stations that copy everything when you swipe), photos, listening (if you ever pay for anything over the phone), online, billing departments (medical, legal, utilities, creditors, etc.), receipts...

If you actually use your card to purchase anything... The numbers are the EASIEST thing to get. You don't even need any gear other than your eyes, but a camera will do it in a split second. Harder is the magnetic strip, but scanners get those, and you don't need the strip for online or over the phone purchases.

Sometimes it will be a recent purchase. Other times there will be a "hub" where someone collects thousands of card numbers, and the numbers get sold off for $20 a pop.

CC companies compare locations with other stolen numbers. So for criminal purchases it can be found out that Leah's Coffee on Dec 3 2011 was a grab location. (Meaning probably not an employee) Or that a lot of cards, slowly over time from XYZ store (probably an employee). Or, or, or, or. Won't help you much. But it helps the CC companies and police.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

There are so many ways. If you ever order something online, the info is out there. Most sites have protection against it, but they can be hacked. Back during the summer I got an email from GE money back saying personal information had been compromised. I was fine, but it does happen.

People plant viruses in your computer that gives them access to your personal things. Like if you pay your bills online, like a lot of do, they are able to track the info.

If you ever call for tech support and allow them to remote access your computer, it can happen then. Most places and people do not do this, but for the corrupt person its fair game. Once they gain that access, they can continue to do it without your permission. They are not supposed to, but it can be done.

People think b/c we do so much on the computer that people don't go through trash not true! Shred, confetti shred, all your papers. Magazines...don't trash them with the label on it. People can gain a lot of info on you just from your name and address.

Nowadays everyone has a camera phone, when you pull your card out to pay they snap a pic and now they have your account number. They even make cameras that look like pens, actually they are pens since you can write with them. HSN sells them, so you don't even have to look hard to find one.

When I am in the store, I make people respect my personal space. Not really for this reason, but because I have issues lol. However it also protects me from that kind of theft.

People stand very close sometimes, be aware and ask them to move back. I don't see any reason why someone you don't know needs to stand so close you can smell their breath.

Also watch you receipts, most place no longer have the account number on the receipt but some still do. Make sure you take them and look at them before tossing them.

Good Luck.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Jacksonville on

Yes. It has happened to us. It's one reason we have our own numbers (we used to have the same number on our cards), because when you cancel it, it cancels everything with that number. And I can't be without access to my checking account (debit card).

No, we never found out what happened. But we did fill out the paperwork they send us so they could prosecute for fraud if they located the person(s).

Our credit union actually called US to inquire about the purchases. As is typical, the first one was a small purchase (less than $10) at a Walmart. Then they tried to follow up with $1000 in electronics. That was when the bank contacted us.

Anyone who has access to your card in a restaurant can do it. And it is my understanding that swiping your card at gas pumps is the "new" danger zone. There is some sort of electronic device that can be used to grab the information as the pump is sending it electronically into the store. They don't even have to put a reader thing on the swipe area of the pump. So I am told. They can just sit in the parking lot and scan and grab the info as people fill their cars... I don't fully understand it. But I ONLY every use the credit card option when I pay for gas.

Also, this information could have been had for awhile, and sold off to a 3rd party before being used. So don't assume that the "theft" had to have happened in the past couple of days.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

Our card info was recorded by someone when we were on vacation in California. Fortunately, our credit card company called us immediately, since we don't live there and rarely use that card. They removed the charges right away. I felt very lucky.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

It could be the company's or card reader's computer systems being hacked.

I'm not sure of the age of your kids but are you sure one of them didn't borrow Dad's card?

I have had this happen "three" times with one card. The first time they were online purchases. The credit card company actually called me before putting them through. When I confirmed that I had not made the purchases they shut down the card and issued us a new one. No worries.

The second time I ordered the Reiman Magazine "Healthy Cooking" for a meager $5. That triggered something in their system as a fradulent charge. They called and asked if I ordered anything from "Light and Tasty". After the first fradulent charge I was adamant "NO!" So they blocked that charge, closed the cards and sent us new ones.

Hours later it dawned on me... 'Doh! "Light and Tasty" was the old name of "Healthy Cooking". OOPS! It was then that I realized I wouldn't be getting my subscription. :-(

Healthy cooking did send me my magazine and a bill When I paid it, it of course triggered a third fraud alert. This time I was wiser and knew to tell them it was legit.

So far I haven't had any other issues.

My advice would be to stay vigilant and always reconcile your statements no matter whether this has happened to you before or not.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Dover on

One thing that I have heard happens is when you use your card at a restaurant, the card gets out of your sight and they can write down you number.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

This happened to my sister. Because debit card purchases are made with my cash, as opposed to credit card purchases made with the bank's cash, I rarely use my debit card for purchases and I NEVER use my debit card for online purchases.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Wichita Falls on

There are lots of ways to steal a card number.

Con artists can piggyback a reader on another scanner or hack a computer with a scanner to retrieve the info.

They can swipe into their own computer when you hand over your card for purchases such as at a restaurant.

They can hack into the memory of a company that has your info on file.

Or they can hack into your computer and retrieve the info from your online purchase history. And these are only a few of the ways that your card info can be stolen.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

Why will they not give you the address???? they have to... It comes on my statement... Something is not right with this story,,. I have changed my Husbands Card number before with out him knowing.. But You have to have the card Password to Chang it in the first place.. I would ask your husband Who he has let use his card???? He HAS given the number to some one..

1 mom found this helpful


answers from St. Louis on

Do you order online from the companies that were charged? There are so many ways this could have happened. A reader could have been attached somewhere you swiped and used your pin number. Another is your computer could have been hacked when you were out with a laptop on an unsecured network.

Do you have an unsecured network at home? If you do I would bet my bottom dollar that is where you were hacked. People drive around looking for unsecured wifi. They rob you from the comfort of their car.

So far as getting information about who did this, isn't going to happen. Technically you weren't damaged. Your bank was and then they will pull back the money and the places the person charged will end up prosecuting the person. An easier way to look at it is they robbed Wal Mart using your card, Wal Mart was the one damaged because they didn't detect the fraud.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Norfolk on

Actually there is a device that can be added to a pump's swiper (it's very small and looks like it belongs there) that will steal your number.
If a pump swiper looks suspicious (check the other pumps - see if they look different), call the attendant and use a different untampered with pump.
This can happen at remote teller machines too.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from New York on

Happens all the time. Just check your account every day or so.



answers from Saginaw on

I had someone start a Fedex shipping account with my debit card of $75 (to start the account) then a few days later got a bill from Fed ex for my shipping for the month....$10,000!!!! it was part of some scam. Fed Ex told me that the shipping origin was a fake address in Texas and on my statement were tracking numbers with names addressees and phone numbers of recipients. Curiosity got the best of me and I called some of them to see what they got. It was a large check, overpaying for an ebay item that these people were selling. For instance...say they were selling the item for $100, the check would be for $900 with an explanation of an accounting error, asking the person to just cash it, and send the item back with the $800 change.
Can't believe people fall for that kind of stuff. Anyway...who knows how they got my card. ANYTHING you do online leaves your card susceptible to hackers getting your numbers. The only time I had used that particular account was to change my address online with the post office. (they charge a dollar so as to verify you are who you are) You'd think the post office would be a safe site.....guess not.



answers from Raleigh on

I haven't had this happen personally with a debit card, however, I have had it happen to friends. Usually, its skimmed when eating out at restaurants and such. Whenever a server takes your card away from you, they can pretty much get all the info they need to make fraudulent charges.


answers from Washington DC on

this has happened to us 3 times in the past year! We had recently switched to a new bank and ever since then it keeps happening. We check our account daily so we found out right away and called the bank and they sent us new cards. I have also had my paypal account hacked. Someone charged $300 on it last year. Luckily with paypal, I was able to find out who did it and their address. They lived in another state.
You just have to be very careful. Make sure you shred all your papers that have your name, address and phone number on it.



answers from Chicago on

Did you go to a gas station that pumps your gas? In New Jersey they were having problems with this because they give the attendant the card . My sister called me this summer after we visited her . Her friend had it happen to her .



answers from Minneapolis on

We switched to using cash only, and then a credit card with identity theft protection for purchases that HAVE to be made via card.

For Updates and Special Promotions
Follow Us

Related Questions