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Credit, ATM or Debit Cards: What to Do

(continued from Credit, ATM, and Debit Cards: What to Do If They're Lost or Stolen)...


The best protections against card fraud are to know where your cards are at all times and to keep them secure. For protection of ATM and debit cards that involve a Personal Identification Number (PIN), keep your PIN a secret. Don't use your address, birthdate, phone or Social Security number as the PIN and do memorize the number.

The following suggestions may help you protect your credit card and your ATM or debit card accounts.


  • Be cautious about disclosing your account number over the phone unless you know you're dealing with a reputable company.
  • Never put your account number on the outside of an envelope or on a postcard.
  • Draw a line through blank spaces on charge or debit slips above the total so the amount cannot be changed.
  • Don't sign a blank charge or debit slip.
  • Tear up carbons and save your receipts to check against your monthly statements.
  • Cut up old cards - cutting through the account number - before disposing of them.
  • Open monthly statements promptly and compare them with your receipts. Report mistakes or discrepancies as soon as possible to the special address listed on your statement for inquiries. Under the FCBA (credit cards) and the EFTA (ATM or debit cards), the card issuer must investigate errors reported to them within 60 days of the date your statement was mailed to you.
  • Keep a record - in a safe place separate from your cards - of your account numbers, expiration dates, and the telephone numbers of each card issuer so you can report a loss quickly.
  • Carry only those cards that you anticipate you'll need.


  • Don't carry your PIN in your wallet or purse or write it on your ATM or debit card.
  • Never write your PIN on the outside of a deposit slip, an envelope, or other papers that could be easily lost or seen.
  • Carefully check ATM or debit card transactions before you enter the PIN or before you sign the receipt; the funds for this item will be fairly quickly transferred out of your checking or other deposit account.
  • Periodically check your account activity. This is particularly important if you bank online. Compare the current balance and recent withdrawals or transfers to those you've recorded, including your current ATM and debit card withdrawals and purchases and your recent checks. If you notice transactions you didn't make, or if your balance has dropped suddenly without activity by you, immediately report the problem to your card issuer. Someone may have co-opted your account information to commit fraud.

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American Consumer Credit Counseling (ACCC) provides nonprofit credit counseling, debt relief, and debt elimination services for consumers nationwide. We offer free credit counseling to help consumers identify the right debt reduction program or debt solution for their unique situation. Since 1991, our certified credit counselors have helped thousands of individuals and families learn how to pay off a credit card balance and how to get out of debt fast through programs designed to payoff credit card debt within five years. Our debt management programs consolidate card credit debt payments and help reduce interest rates and finances charges, reducing the time it takes for getting rid of debt. And we offer comprehensive financial education services where consumers can get answers to questions like "How do I create a budget?", "What is debt consolidation?" and "How can I avoid debt in the future?"

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