If your debit card is charged twice for the same transaction or you discover any other incorrect charges, notify your bank as soon as possible. Legally, if you report an authorized debit card transaction within 48 hours of discovering it, you will only be on the hook for a maximum of $50, though some banks may have more generous policies.
TL;DR (Too Long; Didn't Read)
It is important to take immediate action and inform the debit card company that your card has been charged twice for a service or item that was only purchased once. This gives the company a chance to fix the error and limits your liability for the additional charge that you did not authorize.
Noticing the Charge
If you use a debit card or credit card, it's a good idea to review your regular statements or monitor your account through online banking. That way, you won't be taken by surprise if you come across an unusual or fraudulent charge. Some banks will also allow you to receive phone notifications for any charges on your account. That can be useful in making sure surprise charges don't bring your bank below where you expect it to be.
Reporting the Charge
Once you see any kind of erroneous charge on your account, you'll want to report it as quickly as possible. With a debit card, you are only liable for up to $50 if you report the charge within 48 hours and only liable for up to $500 if you report it within 60 days. Beyond that, it's up to the bank whether to refund your account.
You can generally call the number on the back of your card at any time of day to report fraud or mistaken charge. Some debit cards even have a number you can call collect if you are traveling abroad and you notice an unexpected charge to your account. Some banks also allow you to report fraud or erroneous charges online through a website or through a smartphone app.
Some banks may have more generous policies. Visa debit cards generally have a zero liability policy for incorrect charges, though you are still required to report the unauthorized use promptly.
Handling Fraudulent Charges
If you believe that the charge was fraudulent and not simply an honest mistake, you may wish to ask your bank to reissue your debit card with a new number and expiration date. In that case, you'll have to update your number any place it's saved, such as for online payments and automatic bill payment services.
You can also report card fraud to your local police department or to the Federal Trade Commission, which tracks such fraud. If you're concerned about identity theft that could go beyond a single card, you can also check your credit reports and put a freeze on your accounts with the credit reporting bureaus in order to prevent anyone from fraudulently opening a credit card account or borrowing money in your name.
Steven Melendez is an independent journalist with a background in technology and business. He has written for a variety of business publications including Fast Company, the Wall Street Journal, Innovation Leader and Ad Age. He was awarded the Knight Foundation scholarship to Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism.