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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – As you rush to finish your holiday shopping, you may want to avoid using your debit card if you can.

When Michelle Colver Hilliard noticed $500 missing from her checking account, she immediately reported the fraud.

“We were advised that the money would be returned within 12 hours,” said Hilliard.

But one month later the money was still missing. Hilliard said every call to the bank came back with the same response.

“The claim was being processed and it would be one to two business days before our account would be credited,” said Hilliard.

“It can take banks weeks or months to put that money back in your account,” said Sean McQuay with Nerd Wallet.

McQuay said they urge shoppers to use credit cards instead of debit cards whenever possible.

“A debit card is a representation of your checking account, it’s effectively cash. You can miss major payments like mortgage or rent checks that can damage your credit,” said McQuay.

Unlike credit cards which carry zero liability for fraud, you may be liable for up to $50 for debit card fraud and that’s if you notify your bank right away. Some banks hold customers liable for up to $500 if they don’t report the fraudulent charges within 48 hours. If longer than 60 days, fraud victims will most like be liable for the whole amount.

Hilliard’s bank eventually credited her account. They said the delay was caused by a system error and they were investigating it.


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