Stolen Cards

What To Do If Your Credit, ATM or Debit Card is Lost or Stolen

Many people find it easy and convenient to use credit cards and ATM cards or debit cards. The Fair Credit Billing Act (FCBA) and the Electronic Fund Transfer Act (EFTA) offer procedures for you to use if your cards are lost or stolen.

Limiting Your Financial Loss

Report the loss or theft of your credit cards and your ATM or debit cards to the issuers as quickly as possible. Many companies have toll-free numbers and 24-hour service to deal with such emergencies.

Credit Card Loss or Fraudulent Charges

Your maximum liability under federal law for unauthorized use of your credit card is $50.00. If you report the loss before your credit cards are used, you are not liable for any unauthorized charges. If the cards are used before you report them missing the most you owe for unauthorized charges is $50.00 per card.

After the loss, review your billing statement carefully. If they show any unauthorized charges, it is best to send a letter to the card issuer describing the date your card was lost or stolen, when you first noticed unauthorized charges and when you first reported the problem to them. Be sure to send the letter to the address provided for belling error. Do not send it with a payment or to the address where you send payments unless you are directed to do so.

ATM or Debit Card Loss or Fraudulent Transfers

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 EFTA says the card issuer cannot hold you responsible for any unauthorized transfer. If unauthorized use occurs before you report it, you liability under federal law depends on how quickly you report the loss.

For example, if you report the loss within two business days after you realize your card is missing, you will not be responsible for more than $50 for unauthorized use. However, if you do not report the loss within two business days after you discover the loss, you could lose up to $500 because of an unauthorized transfer. You also risk unlimited loss if you fail to report an unauthorized transfer within 60 days after your bank statement containing unauthorized use is mailed to you.

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 dates, phone or Social Security number as the PIN and do memorize the number.

For More Information

The Federal Trade Commission work for the consumer to prevent fraudulent, deceptive and unfair business practices in the marketplace and to provide information to help consumers spot, stop and avoid them. To file a complaint or to get free information on consumer issues, visit or call toll-free 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357); TTY: 1-866-653-4261