Having your payment information or identity stolen is a scary situation. And your FSA card is no different. But it's important to not panic. We know money is money, but these accounts are as safe as any other banking you might do -- as long as you're careful and have good records of your purchases (yes, even with the card) all will turn out right.
What happens to my funds?
If a fraudulent purchase has been made with your FSA account, you'll need to notify your administrator immediately so that they can open an investigation. Once the investigation is completed, your funds will be reimbursed into your account.
Keep in mind, your account will likely be shut off until the investigation is complete, and a new card will have to be sent to you. Keep this in mind when budgeting for upcoming expenses, so you can still use the traditional reimbursement approach to access the tax-free funds.
How can I keep my FSA safe?
While there isn't a 100% guaranteed method to preventing fraud, there are steps you can take to help keep your FSA account safe. You'll want to treat your FSA card (and all of your account info, for that matter) with the same care and precautions that you would give any debit or credit card.
While an FSA card doesn't have nearly as many places where it can be used, it's still a source of funds that people can purchase items they need. And because of that, it's important to treat FSA fraud like any form of card theft.
First off, it's pretty clear you should keep your physical card in a safe place where others can't easily access it. You should sign the back of your card as soon as you get it, and never store a PIN with the card.
Also, don't give your card number out to anyone who you don't trust. You shouldn't give a card number out over the phone unless you are the one who initiated the phone call to the business or medical office so that you know the people you're speaking to are who they say they are.
And if you do give your card number out over the phone, make sure you're speaking with a reputable outlet, and are in a private place where others can't overhear the information.
(And never, ever provide your card number through email. No reputable store would ever ask you to do it.)
If you are making payments online, be sure to use a secure connection. Never make payments or enter your info over a public wifi connection as this gives hackers easy access to your account. Only make purchases from merchants that you trust who have a secure website.
Your plan administrator is your friend
This all may seem "obvious" … but just for peace of mind and a quick resolution to this problem, reach out to your plan administrator anyway, to see their policies on processes, proper card use, etc. And always keep a copy of your confirmation for your records.
They can probably help you better organize and protect documents and receipts that may contain sensitive account information on them. And they can help keep your contact information, up to date so no one else can try to "muscle" their way into your account using dated information.
From FSA basics to the most specific account details, in our weekly Asked and Answered column, our team gets to the bottom of your most-pressing flex spending questions. It appears every Wednesday, exclusively on the FSAstore.com Learning Center. And for the latest info about your health and financial wellness, be sure to follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.