Many people find it easy and convenient to use credit cards and debit cards. However, in the midst of everyday chaos, there is a good chance of misplacing your credit, debit or ATM cards. If these get into the wrong hands, you can easily end up with a bunch of unnecessary consumer debt.
Stolen Credit, Debit or ATM Cards – What Should You Do?
As soon as you notice you have lost your credit, debit or ATM cards, the first step is to notify the card issuers. You can call the customer service line of these institutions. It is also a good idea to follow up your notification with a letter.
Next step is to review your billing statements carefully. If they show any unauthorized charges, it’s best to send a letter to the card issuer describing each questionable charge. Again, tell the card issuer the date your card was lost or stolen, or when you first noticed unauthorized charges, and when you first reported the problem to them.
Protect Your Cards
The best protection against card fraud is to know where your cards are at all times and to keep them secure. For the protection of ATM and debit cards that involve a Personal Identification Number (PIN), keep your PIN a secret. Don’t use your address, birthdate, phone or Social Security number as the PIN and do memorize the number.
For Credit, Debit or ATM Cards
- Be cautious about disclosing your account number over the phone unless you know you’re dealing with a reputable company.
- Never put your account number on the outside of an envelope or on a postcard.
- Draw a line through blank spaces on charge or debit slips above the total so the amount cannot be changed.
- Don’t sign a blank charge or debit slip.
- Tear up carbons and save your receipts to check against your monthly statements.
- Cut up old cards – cutting through the account number – before disposing of them.
- Open monthly statements promptly and compare them with your receipts. Report mistakes or discrepancies as soon as possible to the special address listed on your statement for inquiries. Under the FCBA (credit cards) and the EFTA (ATM or debit cards), the card issuer must investigate errors reported to them within 60 days of the date your statement was mailed to you.
- Keep a record – in a safe place separate from your cards – of your account numbers, expiration dates, and the telephone numbers of each card issuer so you can report a loss quickly.
- Carry only those cards that you anticipate you’ll need.
For ATM or Debit Cards
- Don’t carry your PIN in your wallet or purse or write it on your ATM or debit card.
- Never write your PIN on the outside of a deposit slip, an envelope, or other papers that could be easily lost or seen.
- Carefully check ATM or debit card transactions before you enter the PIN or before you sign the receipt; the funds for this item will be fairly quickly transferred out of your checking or other deposit accounts.
- Periodically check your account activity. This is particularly important if you bank online. Compare the current balance and recent withdrawals or transfers to those you’ve recorded, including your current ATM and debit card withdrawals and purchases and your recent checks. If you notice transactions you didn’t make, or if your balance has dropped suddenly without activity by you, immediately report the problem to your card issuer. Someone may have co-opted your account information to commit fraud.
If you find that losing your credit, debit, or ATM card lands you as the newest victim of identity theft, don’t worry. Follow these steps for how to recover from identity theft.