What to do about a lost ATM card

In the most severe cases, a customer may be cut off from ATM cards altogether. "It really depends on how much risk the bank or credit union is willing to take and how good of a customer you are," Joseph says.

Registration services

Private companies known as registration services allow consumers to store and track credit, debit and ATM card numbers for a fee. Some of these companies will report lost cards and request replacements on the consumer's behalf, according to the FTC.

Whether these services are worthwhile is a matter of opinion. Those who opt for such a service should compare offers and read the contract to find out what's included.

Whether a bank will be willing to accept the word of a third party that purports to represent a banking customer is open to doubt.

"If we get a call from someone saying one of our members lost their card and they want one reissued, we will tell them to take a hike," Joseph says. "It's only more of a nightmare for you than to do it yourself."

PIN protection

No advice about ATM cards would be complete without a warning about PINs, or personal identification numbers. The chief caveat, often repeated and just as often ignored, is to keep the PIN private, even from the bank's employees. Storing a PIN in an online or mobile application is "an absolute no-no," Whaley says. Starting out with a replacement card after a loss or theft is a good opportunity to develop the habit of memorizing the PIN and keeping it safe and secret.

"That's the major security you have, particularly for cash withdrawals," he says. "Don't write it on the back of your card. Don't store it in your online wallet right next to your card number. ... Don't tempt people."

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