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CHIPS Articles: Lost or Stolen Credit, ATM, and Debit Cards – What’s My Liability?

Lost or Stolen Credit, ATM, and Debit Cards – What’s My Liability?
By DON Privacy Team - July-September 2019
The Fair Credit Billing Act (FCBA) of 1974 and the Electronic Fund Transfer Act (EFTA) of 1978 offer protection for unauthorized charges if your credit, ATM, or debit card is lost or stolen.

Your protection depends on:

(1) The type of card (i.e., credit, ATM, or debit)
(2) When you report the loss (i.e., before or after any charges were made)

If you act fast, you can limit your liability for any charges you did not authorize. Most companies have a 24-hour toll-free number, usually printed on the back of the card, to call in an emergency.

Credit Card Loss

  • Your liability for unauthorized use of your credit card tops out at $50.
  • If you report the loss before it is used, you are not responsible for any charges you did not authorize.
  • If your credit card number is stolen, but not the card, you are not liable for any unauthorized charges.

ATM or Debit Card Loss

  • If you report the loss of an ATM or debit card before someone uses it, you are not responsible for any subsequent unauthorized transactions.
  • If someone uses your ATM or debit card before you report it lost or stolen, your liability depends on how quickly you report it:
    • $0 if you report it before any unauthorized charges are made.
    • $50 if you report it within 2 business days after you learn of the loss.
    • $500 if you report it more than 2 business days after you learn about the loss, but less than 60 calendar days after your statement is sent to you.
    • If you report the loss more than 60 calendar days after your statement is sent to you, you may be liable for all the money taken from your ATM/debit card account. This amount could be even higher if there is money in any accounts linked to your ATM/debit account.

    You are not liable for unauthorized transactions made using your debit card number, when the card itself was not loss or stolen, if you report the charges within 60 days of the statement date.

    Visit the Federal Trade Commission to learn more about consumer topics or file a complaint if you have been scammed by going to the consumer complaint online assistant or by calling 1-877-FTC-HELP (382-4357). For more information, please go to the FTC website at www.ftc.gov.

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