You have more flexibility with your bank account now than ever before, with online banking, direct debits and even contactless payments; the access to your money is seemingly easy to control but things can still sometimes go wrong.

We look at the common ways money can mysteriously disappear from your account and what you can do to get your money back.

Step 1 - Contact your bank or building society


As soon as you spot an unexpected withdraw get in touch with your bank and ask them to investigate what's happened.

They will investigate the transaction and give you more details about the company or business that has taken the money.

Step 2 - Forgotten transaction?

Once you get this extra information from your bank you may remember it might become clear what it is or why you made the transaction.

However, if you still genuinely have no idea why the money has left your account you need to take further action.

Step 3 - Start a claim

Before you can make a claim you should try and resolve the issue personally, for example - contact the company that has taken the money and see if they will send the money back and delete the record of your account details. If you aren't successful with the direct company then you'll need to ask your bank or building society to help you get the money back.

Depending on the type of transaction this may be something you can do over the phone or at times you'll need to sign documentation to start the claim process. On some occasions you will need to have your card stopped, but you will be advised on whether this is the best thing for you to do at the time.

Step 4 - Making transactions while waiting for an outcome

You will need to wait for a decision on your claim and your new bank card to arrive.

If you need cash in the meantime you will be can usually withdraw emergency funds from your bank (up to a maximum of 3 transactions is normal for many banks or building societies).

Step 5 - Receive your new card and claim decision


Once you get your new card in the post you'll be able to continue as normal.

You will either have the money refunded back into your account or you'll be offered an explanation into why it wasn't possible. If you were genuinely not at fault then it will be extremely rare for you to miss out on a refund.

If you truly have no idea how the money left your account then you are almost guaranteed to get your money back. Be careful with your card, protect your details and don't give out your account details to anyone or any company you don't trust.

What types of transactions can be investigated?

There are a number of ways money can be taken from your account; we look at a few examples:

Card transaction - If the long 16 digit card number (known as the PAN number) has been used from your card to make payments, including contactless payments, that you weren't aware of you will need to complete a card dispute.

This will authorise your bank or building society to investigate the transaction/s further and try to get your money back. You card will be stopped and replaced, effectively cancelling the PAN number that had been compromised. Read our guide on Is Debit Card Protection The Same As For Credit Cards? for further information on protecting your card.

Direct debit - A company can retrieve funds from your account as a direct debit using just your sort code and account number. It has become more common for direct debit payments to be created after you make online queries for products such as payday loans.

Always read the small print before looking at any financial accounts where you need to give your bank details. You will are protected by the direct debit guarantee but for further details on how direct debits work you can read our guide Direct Debit Rules: FAQs.

Charges - You could incur a charge on your bank account that you weren't prepared for. If this is the first time a charge has been applied to your account you may be entitled to a refund, but equally if your bank or building society have applied a charge without reason you should be able to get the charge reversed. For more information on charges you can read our guide on How To Reclaim Your Bank Charges.

Cash withdrawal - If cash is taken from your account and you don't remember taking it out, ask yourself whether anyone else could have access to your card? Is your account a joint account - did the joint account holder withdraw the cash? Read our guide 4 ATM Scams You Need To Know About to understand the types of card fraud that can occur without you knowing anything about it.

Online transfer - If money has been transferred from your account online then it is likely that someone with access to your card and pin number made the transfer, and therefore retrieving the funds will be less likely. For details on how to keep your account safe on the internet you can read our guide How To Make Online Banking Safe.