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Chapter 2. MAKING YOURSELF LESS VULNERAB... > Identity Theft and the ATM

Identity Theft and the ATM

If an identity thief uses your ATM card or debit card, the federal Electronic Fund Transfer Act provides you with some protection. The amount of your protection, however is significantly affected by how fast you notify the bank that you have been victimized. The maximum amount for which you may be held responsible for a stolen ATM card is $50 if you notify the bank within two business days of learning that your card has been lost or stolen. If you delay notifying your bank more than two business days after discovering that your card has been lost or been used improperly, but within 60 days of receiving a statement showing that the card has been used for an unauthorized transaction, the maximum amount of your personal financial responsibility for the misuse of the card is $500. But if you wait more than 60 days after learning of the unauthorized use, you stand to lose everything that was taken from your account between the end of the sixty-day period and the time that you reported your card was missing. It is best to notify your bank by telephone first and then immediately follow up your call with a written notification. A sample notification letter can be found in Chapter 15, “Forms.” It is important to note that, regardless of the law, both Visa and MasterCard have taken the consumer-friendly action of limiting their customers' liability for unauthorized debit card use to $50, regardless of the time it takes the customer to notify the bank.

A Primer on ATM Identity Theft

As bank robber Willie Sutton said, he robbed banks because that is where the money is. That also explains the attraction to identity thieves of Automatic Teller Machines (ATMs). ATMs offer an easy way to use identity theft to steal people's money. The plain, hard fact is that ATMs are vulnerable. There are a number of ways to steal money through an ATM.


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