How to Stop Transactions if I Lost My ATM Card

A criminal who gains access to your ATM card and PIN can take everything you have.

A criminal who gains access to your ATM card and PIN can take everything you have.

While you usually safely nestle your ATM card away among the other residents of your wallet, sometimes life intervenes. Distractions or carelessness can leave you without your card, one of the keys to your precious bank account. Don't distress. Federal law has your back. Well, up to a point. If you take action quickly, you can protect yourself and your funds.

Get online and look up your bank's website. Find the customer service number for reporting lost or stolen ATM cards. Some banks offer 24/7 reporting capabilities. However, you may have to call a different number after regular business hours.

Call your bank pronto. Report your ATM card as lost. The faster you do this, the less responsibility you will have. If someone uses your card, federal law limits your liability to $50 if you report the loss within two business days after it occurs. If you report the loss after two business days but within 60 business days, your liability could be a whopping $500.

Follow up your phone call with a letter to the issuing bank -- a smart step, according to the Federal Trade Commission. Include your account number, the date you noticed the card was missing and the date you reported the loss to the bank.

Keep an eye on your bank statements for criminal usage of your lost ATM card. Report any sketchy transactions to your bank. The bank should block the usage of your card once you report it stolen, but you need to be proactive to protect your interests.


  • Some homeowner's policies cover liability issues due to card theft. Check yours to see if does. If not, ask your insurance agent if you can add the coverage.
  • When reporting your loss, jot down the name, title and personal extension number of the rep who helps you. You may need the information later if things go awry.


  • Beware. If you don't report the loss of your ATM card to your bank for over 60 days, you could lose a ton of money. Any unauthorized charges that happened during that time could be your responsibility.
  • Never write your PIN on your ATM card or keep a copy of the number in your purse or wallet. If you do, you'll make it that much easier for thieves to rip you off.

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About the Author

Based in Texas, Cynthia Measom has been writing various parenting, business and finance and education articles since 2011. Her articles have appeared on websites such as The Bump and Motley Fool. Measom received a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Texas at Austin.

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