What Does It Mean if the ATM Says Restricted?

••• Yunus Polat / EyeEm/EyeEm/GettyImages

When an ATM screen shows your card as restricted, that means your bank is hard at work protecting you from fraud or some other problem. Banks, credit unions, brokerage accounts and other debit card issuers take great pains to prevent fraud, and you are the beneficiary of their problem-detection systems. By freezing a suspect card, thieves are stopped from using it to raid your account and steal your money.


  • If an ATM card is restricted, you won't be able to use it, as it has likely been frozen to protect you from fraud.

Causes of Restriction

How to Respond

High-Tech Threats

How to Protect Your Cards

The Federal Trade Commission says you should protect your card’s PIN by never disclosing it to others, not carrying it in your wallet or pocketbook and not writing it down on deposit slips, envelopes and other papers that might be looked at. The FTC also advises you to promptly check your account statements each month and look for unauthorized card usage. It also warns against disclosing your card number or bank account number over the phone. Finally, it advises you to cut up old cards before throwing them away.


About the Author

Eric Bank is a senior business, finance and real estate writer, freelancing since 2002. He has written thousands of articles about business, finance, insurance, real estate, investing, annuities, taxes, credit repair, accounting and student loans. Eric writes articles, blogs and SEO-friendly website content for dozens of clients worldwide, including get.com, badcredit.org and valuepenguin.com. Eric holds two Master's Degrees -- in Business Administration and in Finance. His website is ericbank.com.