It was one fateful Friday morning. Emeka received the most shocking news of his life. His mother had just passed on after a brief illness. He must hurry to the village immediately.

Out of confusion mixed with grief, he stormed out of his house and headed to the bank near his street to use an ATM. He got there, quickly withdrew some cash and left.

Later that day when he was already on his way home to Onitsha, he began to receive debit alerts from his bank. He told Bounce News that when the first debit alert came, he thought it was his bank resending the debit notification for his earlier transaction.

But when he read it, he realized that the amount was different, higher than the amount he withdrew. He was still considering how that could be, when the second and third notifications came.

Within the next ten minutes, 120,000 Naira had gone from that account. It was then he reached for his wallet to check for his ATM card but found it was missing.

“I can’t remember what happened. I don’t know if it fell out from my pocket on my way from the bank or if I left it in the machine after I made my withdrawal,” Emeka said.

“It was like receiving a hot slap. I started sweating immediately. I was still crying for the death of my mother. Now the loss of my money only added to my grief,” he added.

Like Emeka, the loss of ATM cards can be very devastating especially if all your savings are in the account.

Knowing what to do when you lose your ATM can go a long way to minimizing the risk of losing your entire savings.

*ATM card theft is very common in Nigeria

Here are 4 things you may do once you realise your debit card is missing.

Withdraw All Your Cash From The Account: Walk into the nearest branch of your bank and withdraw all the cash you have in it and deposit it in your alternative account.

It is even NOT advisable to fill a form in the bank to have the money moved by wire transfer. Some banks may be having network issues and would not transfer the money immediately.

Report The Theft: Your bank would give you a form to fill. They will then use the card’s information to suspend any transactions on the card.

You can then apply for a new one. Thankfully, most banks today can issue you an ATM card almost immediately.

Change Your Online Banking Details: These days our debit cards are not just for cash withdrawals. There are web-based services which we pay for with ATM cards.

If you have any of such accounts, you may do yourself a favour by editing and changing the card details. In some cases where it is impossible to remove the card details or chose another payment option, you may have to uninstall the app from your device or sign out from the service entirely by closing your account.

Hotlist the Card: As we said, it is all about having the right information. In today’s banking world, protecting your stolen or lost debit card is not that difficult. With your mobile phone, you can hotlist the card.

To hotlist a card, several banks have dedicated phone numbers which customers can text the word ‘HOTLIST’ then your account number and then send to that phone number.

Once the message hits your bank, the card becomes HOTLISTED and the card is blacklisted.

Emeka, whose story you read at the beginning of this story, was armed with this information, so he quickly HOTLISTED the card. That was the way he prevented further withdrawals.

The person in possession of his card would have had a field day with his cash, since Emeka was on the road and could not go to a bank.