If you have Unauthorized ATM charges, an attorney at Schlanger Law Group can help.

Losing your ATM card is terrifying. It’s even more upsetting if you know someone stole it. It’s equally shocking to find a transaction you didn’t authorize on your monthly bank statement. It leaves you with a feeling of helplessness.

But federal law protects you from losing your money if you are willing to follow a couple of simple steps. If you follow these basic rules, your bank must fully reimburse you for any unauthorized ATM charges in New York City. If they do not reimburse you, an experienced attorney from Schlanger Law Group, LLP could fight for your deserved compensation.

How Much Time Do You Have to Notify the Bank?

The key thing to remember is to notify the bank within the law’s easy time limits. The Electronic Funds Transfer Act (EFTA) is an iron-clad shield to ensure your bank reimburses you for all the unauthorized transactions as long as you notify the bank within a defined deadline.

If you don’t notify the bank until after the notification deadline lapses, it may cost you. But, even if you do fail to call the bank within the set deadline, there are still limits on the amount for which the bank can hold you responsible.

Here are the basic rules:

Lost or Stolen ATM/bank Card:

  • You have 2 full business days from when you discover your ATM card is gone to notify the bank.
  • And it’s not 2 days from when you lost it, but two business days from when you learned the card was missing.
  • The day you discovered it was missing or stolen doesn’t count. Start counting your 2 full days on the next business day.
  • You can notify the bank up until 11:59 pm on the last day. It doesn’t matter if the bank closed at 4:00 o’clock.
  • If you don’t notice your ATM card is missing until your monthly bank statement showed the unauthorized transactions, then you still have 2 business days from the day you received the statement to notify the bank. The same timetable applies.

If you do notify the bank within the two-day-limit, you can only lose a maximum of $50. If the thief charged $60 or $60,000, your loss would still not exceed $50. If the thief only charged $30, then you would only lose $30.

Notifying the Bank After the 2-Day Window

If you don’t notify the bank of the ATM card’s loss until after you discover it’s missing, then:

  • You will lose no more than $50 total for the first two days, regardless of how much money was taken during those days.
  • You will lose any unauthorized funds transferred between the end of the second day and the time you finally notified the bank, but not more than $500 total.

Unauthorized ATM Charges on Your Bank Statement? (Not from an ATM/bank card)

  • You have 60 days from when you receive your bank statement to notify the bank of unauthorized charges that do not involve a lost ATM/bank card. This would apply if your account was hacked online.
  • If you notify the bank within 60 days of receiving your statement, the bank must reimburse all the money taken without authorization. You would lose nothing.
  • Notifying the Bank After the 60-day Window (We have Good News and Bad News):
  • The bank must establish that the losses would not have occurred but for your failure to report the charges within 60 days.
  • The 60-days are calendar days, not business days.

Regardless of whether the unauthorized charges involved an ATM/debit card or some other type of electronic transfer, if you don’t notify the bank of unauthorized transactions within 60 days from the day you received your bank statement, then you will be responsible for all your losses, without any dollar amount limitation.

However, this is true only with regard to the unauthorized charges on your ATM card that occurred after the first 60 days and prior to your giving notice to the bank. With regard to losses suffered during the first 60 days, the limits on liability described above would apply.

Extenuating Circumstances

Congress specifically stated that the 60-day deadline to notify the bank of the unauthorized transactions could be extended for extenuating circumstances, such as if the account holder was hospitalized or engaged in extended travel. These are scenarios Congress used as examples and not an exclusive statement of what circumstances would justify a reasonable extension of the deadline.

The Bank Cannot Change the Law

If your bank claims that you signed an agreement to be bound by different rules, be assured that they are wrong. Congress enacted a law that applies nationwide and is not subject to any alteration by any bank or state law. The only time a state law or bank rule may apply is if it is even more lenient to the account holder than the federal law.

Is the Burden of Proof on the Bank or on the Consumer?

Not surprisingly, the law does not require the bank to reimburse losses it can prove were authorized by the account holder. Banks may allege that an account holder was somehow trying to defraud the bank by falsely claiming that certain transactions were unauthorized.

The bank has the burden of proof and must show the account holder’s claim is false. It is not up to the account holder to bring proof of innocence. If it suspects fraud or mistake by the cardholder, the bank must conduct a genuine investigation. They must consider whatever evidence or information the cardholder provides.

What if there is Negligence on Behalf of the Consumer?

While a consumer who is trying to defraud the bank is, of course, not protected, a consumer who is merely negligent gets all of the Electronic Funds Transfer Acts protections. So, the fact that the consumer may have been careless in protecting their card, account, or password does not let the bank off the hook – they may be free to decide not to do business with the consumer going

forward, but they cannot refuse to reimburse the consumer on grounds that the consumer “wasn’t careful enough”.

When the Bank Doesn’t Follow the Rules for Unauthorized ATM Charges in New York City

Unfortunately, Banks don’t always reimburse consumers as the law requires. In fact, some banks routinely tell consumers that they are responsible for the fraudulent charges, even when all the evidence points the other way and the bank’s obligation under the law is clear.

Fortunately, the Electronic Funds Transfer Act provides powerful remedies including actual damages, statutory damages, and costs and mandatory attorney’s fees. These claims can be pursued in federal court. And because of the EFTA’s attorney’s fees provisions, consumer law firms that focus on these types of claims, such as Schlanger Law Group, LLP, can represent consumers dealing with unauthorized ATM charges in New York City on a contingent basis and help them recover compensation. Call (212) 500-6114 or fill out this simple contact form to schedule your free consultation.

Schlanger Law Group LLP serves clients in New Jersey, New York, and throughout the United States with consumer protection, class action, credit reporting, and identity theft issues.