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What To Do When You Lost Your ATM Card

Smart consumers are careful to keep track of their cash and plastic cards that function as money. But suppose a wallet gets lost or stolen with a bank Automated Teller Machine card tucked away, seemingly safe inside. While some people may be tempted to wait and hope the wallet turns up intact, the wiser course is to take immediate action, according to

Here is what to do:

  • Report the loss: The loss or theft of an ATM card should be reported as quickly as possible, according to George Joseph, President and CEO of Dade County Federal Credit Union in Miami. Most banks have a toll-free customer service phone number for this purpose.

“As soon as you know it is missing, you should notify your bank or credit union,” Joseph says. “You need to do that immediately.”

It is also a good idea to send a follow-up letter, with the account number and an explanation of when the loss was discovered and reported. Unauthorised withdrawals or transfers also should be reported as soon as possible.

  • Liability limits: A consumer’s potential liability due to a lost or stolen ATM card depends primarily on how soon the loss of the card is reported to the bank.

If the loss is reported prior to any unauthorised activity, the potential liability is zero.If the loss isn’t reported within 60 days after the bank sends out a statement, the consumer is responsible for all losses up to the balance of the account, plus the unused portion of any overdraft line of credit.

“Best-case scenario, they are not responsible for anything. Worst-case scenario, they are responsible for everything,” Joseph says.

Some banks will reduce or waive a customer’s loss as a matter of goodwill, according to Cary Whaley, vice president of payments and technology policy at Independent Community Bankers of America, a trade association in Washington, D.C.

A homeowners or renters insurance policy also may reimburse all or a portion of the loss, up to the policy limit, according to the FTC.

New ATM card

Most banks offer replacement ATM cards at the local bank branch or by mail. Some provide free replacements, others charge a fee or allow customers a few free cards, and then charge a fee for any more.

Customers who want to speed up delivery of a replacement ATM card usually have that option, according to Whaley.

“Almost every bank that I am aware of has a process to expedite a replacement card. That may be for an additional fee, particularly if it involves something like Express Mail,” he says.

Customers who lose multiple ATM cards may be encouraged to use other banking services, such as paper cheques or an ATM card that doesn’t include a credit or debit capability and carry a higher risk of loss. This type of ATM card can only be used to get cash or make deposits.

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