How do ATM transactions work?
There are a variety of electronic transactions one can execute:
- ATMs allow you to bank electronically, get cash, make deposits, pay bills, or transfer funds between accounts. These machines are used with a debit or ATM card and a personal identification number.
- Point of Sale Transactions. Some ATM cards and debit cards can be used in stores to charge merchandise. Money is electronically drawn from your account and paid to the store.
- Pre-authorized transfers. This is allowing for the automatic deposit of fund or withdrawal of funds to or from your account. For example, one can authorize the direct deposit of wages, social security, or dividends directly to their account. You can also pre-authorize your bank to make automatic transfers for bill paying.
- Telephone transfers. You can transfer funds from one of your accounts to the other, or order bill payments over the phone.
- Most ATMs provide you with a receipt for the transaction, as do point of sale purchases. These receipts are the records of your electronic transactions and should be kept. Additionally, your periodic bank statement will show all the electronic transfers performed. This monthly statement is your proof of payment to another party and is your record for tax and other purposes. Any inconsistencies can be taken up with your bank.
What should I do if I find an error on an EFT or ATM transaction?
Call your bank as soon as possible, or within 60 days of the error. They may ask you to submit your account information and the alleged error in writing. Generally they have 10 business days to investigate the error, and if they fail to come up with an answer your funds should be reimbursed. If the funds in questions were withdrawn from a point-of-service debit or a foreign electronic transfer, the bank may be allowed more time to investigate the error. In the meantime, however, you should have full access to the funds in question.
Your bank should notify you immediately of their findings. If you were correct about the error, they must immediately finalize the re-credit to your account. If there was no error, they must present in writing the findings of their investigation, and notify you of any funds they have deducted after you had been re-credited.
What if my ATM card is lost or stolen?
It’s important to note the difference in how you will be reimbursed for credit cards vs. ATM or debit cards. For a credit card your loss is limited to $50.
However, for an ATM or debit card the loss is limited to $50 if you notify your institution within 2 business days after the card is lost or stolen.
Keep in mind that the loss could be up to $500 if you do not tell your bank within two business days of the loss or theft.
If you do not report unauthorized transfers within 60 days of your statement being mailed to you, you run the risk of having unlimited loss on transfers made after the 60 days.
Can I use my ATM card abroad?
Yes, there are plenty of ATMs all around the world, but it is wise to check beforehand. With Visa and MasterCard, you can pinpoint ATM locations worldwide on their website.
Often it is a good idea to travel with an ATM card because you can withdraw foreign currencies at a better exchange rate, and also if you lose your card and report it promptly you will not experience the type of losses you would with cash. Be wary of fees your bank will charge you for each withdrawal – it may be wise to withdraw larger sums to minimize the frequency of transactions.
How do I know when a pre-authorized credit has been deposited into my account?
Your institution may notify your employer, or you. Many times your bank may only notify the recipient if a scheduled credit does not come through. Often, you can check your statement online or call your bank to check on your credits.
How do I cancel a pre-authorized payment?
You can call or write your bank, or often stop the payment by going to your bank’s website. Do this at least 3 days before the scheduled payment. It is a good idea to request a written confirmation of giving a telephone notice to stop the transfer.