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Tips for Avoiding or Resolving an ATM Problem
Protecting yourself in case of card theft, equipment malfunction or transaction error.
ATMs in the United States handle more than 10 billion transactions a year, and the overwhelming majority go smoothly. But sometimes things don't go the way you want or expect. Here are some problems that ATM users can encounter, plus tips for avoiding or resolving them.
ATM fraud can occur if a thief steals an existing ATM card or makes a counterfeit card, and obtains your personal identification number (PIN), which is needed to authorize transactions.
To limit your liability for any losses, it's important to immediately report the problem to your ATM card issuer. Your bank may ask you to sign an affidavit or other notice of the theft. Important: Under the Electronic Fund Transfer Act (EFTA), if you report that your ATM card is lost or stolen within two business days after you realize your card is missing, your losses are limited to a maximum of $50 for any unauthorized use. If you wait more than two business days to report a lost or stolen ATM card, your potential liability goes up significantly. For more information, see "Laws Protecting ATM Users."
Depending on the circumstances, if it is clear that you are an innocent victim of fraud and you promptly reported the loss or theft of the card or an unauthorized transaction, many banks will voluntarily hold you to no liability.
For tips on avoiding ATM crimes, see "ATM Safety: Common Sense Tips for Combating Crooks."
"My bank statement shows an incorrect amount for an ATM withdrawal."
"The machine cheated me."
Make sure to keep a record of the conversation. It also never hurts to follow up in writing. The next step is for the ATM's owner to determine if the machine has too much or too little cash, and why.
"What happened to my deposit?"
Also remember that deposited funds are not immediately available for you to withdraw; they will be subject to your bank's funds availability policy and federal schedules.
Note: If you can't resolve any of these problems directly with the financial institution that issued your ATM card, consider calling or writing its federal regulator, as listed on "For More Information."
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