Credit Cards, ATM Cards and Debit Cards: What to do if Your Cards are Lost or Stolen
The good news is there are laws in place that limit your responsibility for unauthorized charges made on your account if you follow the procedures in The Fair Credit Billing Act (FCBA) and the Electronic Fund Transfer Act (EFTA) if your cards are lost or stolen.
Immediately report the loss or theft of your credit cards and your ATM or debit cards to the bank or financial institutions that issued the cards. Be prepared to give an exact time that you noticed your cards were lost or stolen.
Banks will ask you what your last charge was to see if there are any unauthorized charges already made to your accounts. You can find the toll free numbers of credit card, debit card and ATM card issuers online. You can also be proactive and create a list of phone numbers from the back of your cards before they are lost or stolen. Usually the numbers are listed as "number to call if your card is lost or stolen".
Under federal law your maximum liability under for unauthorized use of your credit card is $50 for each card. If you report the loss before your credit cards are used the card issuer cannot hold you responsible for any unauthorized charges.
More and more credit card numbers are being stolen and not the credit card itself. I recently experienced this problem. I used a credit card to make a software purchase on a small obscure website and a few months later I received a courteous call from the credit card issuer about a recent Dell laptop purchase that was made on my account. I didn't make the purchase but thankfully I wasn't responsible for any of the charge, not even the $50 limit since my credit card number was stolen and I was still in possession of the card.
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