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Block debit card

You have to do this when your bank card is gone

Josefine Lietzau
Expert for banking and credit as of April 03, 2020

Josefine Lietzau

Josefine Lietzau is an editor in the Bank & Investments team. During her studies in German and English, she worked for the editorial offices of the Green League, the Jüdische Zeitung and the Superillu. After completing her master's degree, Josefine Lietzau completed an internship at the online consumer portals Banktip and Posttip, where she then worked as an editor.

  • You must have your bank card blocked in case it is lost or stolen.
  • Until the card is blocked, you are liable up to a maximum of 50 euros. Exceptions apply if you have handled the card with gross negligence. Then you may be fully liable.
  • The banks are not allowed to charge any fees for blocking the girocard (formerly: EC card) or credit card.
  • To block a lost or stolen card, call either the blocking emergency number 116 116, your bank or the credit card company.
  • Report the loss of the Girocard to the police and ask them to block the card via the police's own Kuno system.
  • Check your bank statements regularly. You may just notice that someone is using your card without authorization.

Over time, a few cards accumulate in most people's wallets: Girocard (formerly: EC card), credit card, club cards for retailers and many more. It is often not immediately noticeable that a card is missing. This is exactly what is important in order to prevent unauthorized persons from using the card.

How do I block my bank card?

If one of your bank cards is stolen or lost, you should contact your bank as soon as possible and have the cards blocked. In many cases, this works in the same way with the Girocard (formerly: EC card) and credit card, namely via the Emergency lock 116 116.

Have the name of your bank or the card-issuing bank ready for you to block the bank card. With EC cards you also have to give your account number to block, the BIC - i.e. the bank code - of the bank can also be helpful. When blocking the credit card, you must have the card number ready.

Important: Find out whether your bank participates in the emergency number 116 116, because this is not the case with all banks. You can find a list of the participating banks and the card types reported there on the emergency number website.

Block debit card

To have your Girocard blocked, you have to call the blocking emergency number. In Germany you can reach the emergency number at 116 116, abroad you have to put the country code for Germany at the beginning of the number. You will be referred to the issuer of the card via the emergency call and can thus block the EC card. But you can too call your bank directlyto have the card blocked.

Also report the loss of your Girocard in the policeeven if you do not expect theft. Because the police can block the card via another system: Kuno, short for “Fighting crime in cashless payment transactions using non-police organizational structures”.

The police reports to retail about Kuno that the card was lost. For example, thieves can no longer use the card in the shops connected to the system to pay by direct debit, i.e. with a signature.

lock credit card

Even if you lose credit cards, you should either use the Emergency number 116 116 or at the card-issuing bank call. Mastercard and Visa cannot block the cards, but they will provide phone numbers that the card company can use to help you if the card is gone.

Something works differentlyit American Express and Diners Club, as these credit card companies issue the cards themselves. They have their own emergency numbers. You can block your American Express credit card on 069/97 97 10 00 and your Diners Club card on 069/900 150 135.

Card blocking costs

Your bank may do not ask for moneyif you have your card blocked. In this case, the bank only fulfills what is known as an ancillary obligation (Section 675f (4) sentence 2 BGB). Incidentally, this also applies if you unblock the card or the bank issues a replacement card after blocking the original card.

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Who is liable if strangers use the card?

If unauthorized persons use your credit card or girocard to pay or withdraw money, you are liable until blocked with a maximum of 50 euros. The bank then pays the costs incurred. The credit card companies Mastercard and Visa also have a so-called zero liability policy. This means that customers are not liable at all if their card is used for unauthorized payments or for withdrawals.

Sounds easier than it is: Both the legal rules and the terms and conditions of the credit card companies only protect you if you have not handled the card or data carelessly. However, if it does, the banks will throw you in some cases gross negligence in front. You may then be liable for that total damage.

What exactly falls under gross negligence is always a point of contention in courts. For example, the Düsseldorf Higher Regional Court and the Berlin Regional Court ruled that it is grossly negligent to leave the Girocard in the locked glove compartment of the car (October 26, 2007, Az. I-16 U 160/04 and June 22, 2010, Az. 10 S 10/09).

It also becomes difficult if you lose the card or someone steals it and shortly afterwards uses it to withdraw or pay with a PIN. Many banks take the position that the PIN is secure. From the banks' point of view, this means that the cardholder must have kept the PIN together with the card, otherwise no one else would have been able to use the card. And that is exactly what bank customers must not do under any circumstances. The courts often agree with this assessment of the banks and judge based on this so-called Semblance of evidence in favor of the banks.

Liability for contactless payments

The credit card companies and banks are constantly developing their cards. The technical innovations of the past few years include, for example, so-called Near Field Communication (NFC). With this technology you can pay with your Girocard or credit card without inserting it into a reader. You just hold the card up to the device. In some cases this even works without entering the PIN, namely if the amount to be paid is less than 25 euros. In the case of Visa, this limit can also be 50 euros.

The Zero Liability Policy of Mastercard and Visa also applies in these cases. With girocards, the card-issuing bank is often liable for contactless payments without a PIN.

Regularly check the card transactions based on your bank statements. This also applies if the card has been lost and you have already blocked it. You may only notice when looking at the account activity that someone else is using the card or a duplicate card, or that the blocking did not work. For example, because you forgot to block the Girocard via Kuno.

More on this in the legal protection insurance guide

  • You can get good legal protection for less than 300 euros a year.
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To the advisor

Josefine Lietzau

Josefine Lietzau

Josefine Lietzau is an editor in the Bank & Investments team. During her studies in German and English, she worked for the editorial offices of the Green League, the Jüdische Zeitung and the Superillu. After completing her master's degree, Josefine Lietzau completed an internship at the online consumer portals Banktip and Posttip, where she then worked as an editor.

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