Credit, ATM, and Debit Cards: What to Do if They Are Lost or Stolen
Contact numbers to report lost/stolen cards (available 24/7)
Report card lost or stolen as soon as possible
Lost/Stolen debit card: (800) 262-2024 or (973) 682-2652 (Outside U.S.)
Lost/Stolen credit card: (888) 479-8584 or (571) 325-3379 (Outside U.S.)
Limit your financial loss
Report the loss or theft of your credit cards and your ATM or debit cards to the card issuers as quickly as possible. Many companies have toll-free numbers and 24-hour service to deal with such emergencies. It's a good idea to follow up your phone calls with a letter. Include your account number, the time you noticed your card was missing, and the date you first reported the loss.
Credit Card Loss or Fraudulent Charges
Your maximum liability under federal law for unauthorized use of your credit card is $50. If you report the loss before your credit cards are used, the card issuer cannot hold you responsible for any unauthorized charges. If a thief uses your cards before you report them missing, the most you will owe for unauthorized charges is $50 per card. Also, if the loss involves your credit card number, but not the card itself, you have no liability for unauthorized use.
Always 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. 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. Be sure to send the letter to the address provided for billing errors. Do not send it with a payment or to the address where you send your payments unless you are directed to do so.
ATM or Debit Card Loss or Fraudulent Transfers (EFTA)
Your liability under federal law for unauthorized use of your ATM or debit card depends on how quickly you report the loss. If you report an ATM or debit card missing before it is used without your permission, the card issuer cannot hold you responsible for any unauthorized transfers. If unauthorized use occurs before you report it, your liability under federal law depends on how quickly you report the loss.
If unauthorized transfers show up on your bank statement, report them to the card issuer as quickly as possible. Once you've reported the loss of your ATM or debit card, you cannot be held liable for additional unauthorized transfers that occur after that time.
For example, if you report the loss within two business days after discovering your card is missing, you will not be responsible for more than $50 of unauthorized use. However, if you don't report an unauthorized transfer within two business days after discovery, you could be responsible for up to $500. You also risk unlimited loss if you fail to report an unauthorized transfer within 60 days from the mailing date of the bank statement containing the unauthorized use. That means you could lose all the money in your bank account and the unused portion of your line of credit established for overdrafts. For unauthorized transfers involving only your debit card number (not the loss of the card), you are only liable for transfers that occur before you report the loss and after 60 days following the mailing of your bank statement containing the unauthorized use.
Protecting your cards
The best protections against card fraud are to know where your cards are at all times and to keep them secure. For protection of ATM and debit cards that involve a Personal Identification Number (PIN), keep your PIN a secret. Don't use your address, birth date, or phone or Social Security number as the PIN. Memorize the number.
The following suggestions may help you protect your credit card and your ATM or debit card accounts.
For Credit and ATM or Debit 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 so the total amount cannot be changed.
Don't sign a blank charge or debit slip.
Tear up carbon copies 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 inquiry address listed on your statement. The card issuer must investigate errors reported 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.
Carefully check ATM or debit card transactions before you enter the PIN or before you sign the receipt because the funds for this item can be quickly transferred out of your checking or other deposit account.
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 recently written checks. If you notice transactions that 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.