If you've never heard of hotlisting, you aren't alone. In the U.S., if a debit card is stolen, financial institutions tend to use terms like "blocking" or "canceling" the card. However, in some countries, a stolen debit card is "hotlisted" by the bank to ensure it can't be used by the thief. If you discover your debit card is missing, take steps to have it hotlisted.
Contact Your Bank
Most financial institutions have a 24-hour emergency phone line specific to lost or stolen debit and credit cards. However, since that number is printed on the back of your now-missing card, you'll probably have to go online to get it. If you have an app for your bank account, you may be able to freeze your card using the app, which will put all activity on hold until you can confirm that you haven't simply misplaced it.
However, if you're fairly certain your card might have fallen into the wrong hands, it's important to cancel it as soon as possible. Under federal law, you can't be held responsible for any purchases made after you've notified the bank. However, the responsibility is on you to contact your bank as soon as you suspect your card may have been compromised. If you delay in reporting, the amount you owe depends on that delay. If reported within two business days, you may be responsible for $50 of the charges, while reporting it after two business days could force you to pay $500 of the charges. If you remain unaware of the theft for more than 60 days, you may be left with the burden of the full amount.
If your card has been hotlisted, you cannot use it, obviously. Unfortunately, you'll also often find that it can take up to 10 days to receive a replacement card, which will put you in a bind if you don't have a backup card to use in the meantime. Check to see if you can have the card rushed to you, but be aware that this could come with an extra charge.
Once reported, the bank has up to 10 days to investigate the fraud and refund your account. If your checking account has been emptied by the thief, though, this can leave you cash-strapped while waiting. During this period, be sure to stop any automatic payments coming out of your checking account, unless you can transfer the money to cover them.
Once your replacement card arrives, make sure you update it with any auto-draft services you stopped. It may also be worthwhile to consider taking out a credit card that you save only for emergencies, just in case you run into the need to hotlist a debit card again.