{mosimage}Many people find it easy and convenient to use credit and ATM cards. But what do you do if you lose a card or a thief steals it from you? There are steps you can take to limit your financial loss in the event that your credit or ATM card becomes lost or stolen. Follow these tips:
    • Report the loss or theft of your credit and ATM cards to the card issuers as quickly as possible. Many companies have toll-free numbers and 24-hour service to deal with such emergencies.
    • Follow up your phone calls with a letter. Include your account number, when you noticed your card was missing, and the date you first reported the loss. Send the letter to the address provided for billing errors and keep a copy for you records.
    • If you report the loss of a credit card before it is used, the card issuer cannot hold you responsible for any unauthorized charges. If a thief uses your card before you report it missing, the most you will owe for unauthorized charges is $50 per card.
    • Review your next billing statements carefully. If they show any unauthorized charges, send a letter to the card issuer describing each questionable charge and reminding the card issuer when your card was reported lost or stolen.
    • If you report an ATM card missing before it’s used without your permission, the card issuer cannot hold you responsible for any unauthorized withdrawals made on the card.
    • If unauthorized use occurs before you report the loss of your ATM card, the amount you can be held liable for depends upon how quickly you report it. If you report the loss within two business days after you realize it is missing, you will not be responsible for more than $50 for unauthorized use. If you wait more than two business days, you could lose up to $500. If you fail to report an unauthorized withdrawal within 60 days after your bank statement is mailed to you, you risk losing all the money in your account and the unused portion of your line of credit.
    • If unauthorized transactions 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 card, you cannot be held liable for additional amounts, even if more unauthorized transactions are made on the card.
    • To protect yourself from card theft, loss and fraud, know where your cards are at all times and keep them secure.
    • For ATM card protection, it’s important to memorize your Personal Identification Number (PIN) and keep it a secret. Don’t use your address, birth date, phone or social security number as your PIN.
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