Can I file charges if someone uses my debit card?

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Theft of debit cards creates all kinds of concerns. In addition to losing money, a stolen debit card leaves you vulnerable to identity theft, which can have deeper consequences. If the thief is caught, you have every right to seek justice before the law. However, decisions about legal action may not be only in your hands. You will have to work with the police and your banking institution.


Theft and use of a third party debit card are considered theft. When using your debit card, the thief has committed at least theft. Depending on the amount of money debited, how it has been used and where, it is possible for a thief to violate the laws of multiple jurisdictions, as well as federal law. All this determines whether it can be prosecuted for a misdemeanour or misdemeanour and whether it is a local or federal crime.


Reporting the theft to the local police in a timely manner is essential to prosecute the criminal. If a friend took your card, used it and returned it to you later, and you spend some time deliberating whether or not to report it, it could be difficult to resort to justice later. However, reporting a stolen card to the local police or sheriff’s premises immediately allows the crime to be recorded with the police, who can then take steps to find it and to file charges, even if you or a third party cannot find or identify the thief.


When a card is lost or stolen, it is important to quickly inform your bank. This not only protects you against theft but also, depending on the bank and the State, doing so could protect you from losses from unauthorized use of your card. With the same importance, your bank also wants justice. Banks and credit unions work with the police to identify spending patterns, places and transactions that become federal crimes. Your financial institution plays an integral role in collecting the necessary evidence to prosecute.


In most states, people fail to file charges. Local prosecutors decide which cases they want to go to trial. It could happen that your stolen card plays a role in a larger case involving a serial thief or a criminal network. However, if the amount was too small, the card is recovered and your bank protects you against the loss, a prosecutor may let it pass. Despite your feelings, you may have little to say about it.