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Important Update: Changes in FDIC Deposit Insurance Coverage

The FDIC deposit insurance rules have undergone a series of changes starting in the fall of 2008. As a result, certain previously published information related to FDIC insurance coverage may not reflect the current rules. For details about the changes, visit Changes in FDIC Deposit Insurance Coverage. For more information about FDIC insurance, go to www.fdic.gov/deposit/deposits/index.html or call toll-free 1-877-ASK-FDIC (1-877-275-3342). For the hearing-impaired, the number is 1-800-925-4618.

Spring 2004

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.

Under the Electronic Fund Transfer Act, 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.
"A thief is using my ATM card."
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."
Always save your ATM receipts until you compare them to your monthly statement or you verify your transactions online. Promptly report any error. FDIC attorney Susan van den Toorn says to be fully protected under the EFTA "you must notify your financial institution orally or in writing no later than 60 days after it sends your periodic statement."

"The ATM ate my card."
This can happen if, for example, the card was defective or your bank suspects it may be involved in some type of fraudulent activity, according to Denise Davis, an FDIC Consumer Affairs Specialist. "Immediately contact the financial institution that issued your card," she says. Don't expect to receive your original ATM card back — you'll probably get a replacement card. The process can occur fairly quickly if you notify your bank immediately.

"The machine cheated me."
What should you do if the ATM gives you too little cash, or no cash at all, and the receipt says you got exactly what you asked for? Immediately contact your bank to report the problem, even if the machine belongs to another financial institution or company (although it's wise to alert that other entity, too, if possible).

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?"
When making a deposit at the ATM, record the transaction in your checkbook, including information about each check. Keep the ATM receipt and verify the deposit by reviewing your account statement or checking your account online, which is faster. If you believe some or all of your deposit was mishandled, immediately contact your bank and follow up with a letter. If a check is missing, you might have to ask the check issuer to stop payment.

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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Last Updated 06/01/2004 communications@fdic.gov