If your credit card or ATM card gets stolen, it’s not time to panic. It’s time to take action. The longer you wait to deal with a stolen credit or ATM card, the more it will cost you.
You should report a stolen or lost credit card or ATM card as soon as possible. If you wait too long, you could be financially responsible for some or all the charges made on the credit card, even those you didn’t make.
To report a stolen card, call your card’s customer service department and let them know someone has taken your card. The customer service representative may ask you for the last charge you made on the card to figure out if any fraudulent charges have been made.
The laws regarding financial liability for fraudulent charges differ for credit cards and ATM cards. In both cases, your liability depends on when you report the theft. The sooner you report a stolen card to your bank, the lower your responsibility will be.
If you report a stolen credit card before any fraudulent charges are made, you won’t be responsible for any of the charges made. It’s more likely the thief won’t have a chance to use the card because your creditors will cancel your credit card as soon as you report stolen. However, if fraudulent charges have already been made on your credit card when you report it stolen, you could be liable for up to $50.
Unfortunately, you face greater liability with stolen ATM cards. If you report the theft within two business days of learning about it, you’ll only be liable for a maximum of $50. After that, you could be liable for up to $500. Even worse, if you wait 60 days to report the theft, you can be responsible for all the fraudulent charges and any overdraft fees that were charged. You cannot legally be held liable for unauthorized transactions made after you've reported the loss of your ATM card.
You can keep thieves from stealing your credit and ATM cards by taking extra steps to keep them safe.
Though you never want to have a credit card or ATM card stolen, it’s better to be prepared for it if it happens to you. While you still have your cards, make a photocopy of the front and back of each card and store the copies in a safe place, like a safe or other locked box. These photocopies will help you contact your bank when you notice your card is missing.