/ Money

Card fraud: don’t make victims pay

A wallet covered in police tape

In the UK, card fraud costs its victims more than £340 million a year. The good news is that your card provider should refund you immediately if you get stung. However, our latest research shows this isn’t always the case.

Banks are required by law to give victims of fraud an immediate refund. Yet, our recent survey found that almost a third of us are kept waiting for weeks, or even months, for redress, while the bank decides if the customer has acted fraudulently or with ‘gross negligence’.

Given that card fraud victims eventually get their money back in 98% of cases, it seems too many card providers are being unfairly suspicious of their customers.

When fraud doesn’t look like fraud

To understand why banks are delaying refunds, it’s worth touching on how card fraud can happen. For a start, according to our survey, 61% of respondents who’d been victims of fraud had their card details used by fraudsters to make online purchases. These transactions can understandably look legitimate to card providers.

Shoulder-surfing is also a popular tactic. All thieves need to do is spy on you when you’re punching in your Pin and then steal your card. I always try to shield my Pin as much as possible, but in my experience, it’s hard to cover a Pin pad completely and still enter numbers accurately.

And fraudsters don’t even need to know your Pin. I recently visited Cambridge University’s computer lab and was amazed when they took my card and bought soft drinks at a canteen, without me ever telling them my Pin. To the card company, it would have looked like the person who carried out the transaction used my Pin. In fact, the technicians used a device that can be concealed up a sleeve to use my card. See the graphic below to see how this device worked.

How card fraud can work

Fraudulent purchases or cash withdrawals made using a card and Pin together can be considered ‘gross negligence’ on the customer’s part. As you can tell, that’s often not the case.

Don’t keep me waiting

Given that banks have to pick up the bill for fraud, it’s reasonable to conclude that many of them drag their feet when it comes to paying claims – but this is short-sighted. Treating claims quickly and efficiently enhances customer loyalty. After all, most of the people we hear from who have had a fraud claim delayed or rejected are loyal customers with immaculate track records.

Banks should do everything they can to help victims of fraud, as there are often large sums at stake that can leave people seriously out of pocket and unable to pay essential bills.

Have you ever been a victim of card fraud? Did your bank do everything it could to help you recover your money?

Lisa says:
9 July 2013

I have a business banking acc with Santander. I only bank online and whilst have used TB a handful of times I have never registered- i just speak to an advisor. On 28th June I logged in as 12k was being added to the account. Everything was fine. On 1st June logged on and the complete balance, plus overdraft totaling approximately 45k had been debited. I rang immediately and they said its CHIP & Pin and 2 ATM withdrawals over a couple of days. But how? I still had the bank card?. After further calls with the fraud department it transpires that on 13/6 somebody rang them and failed security. On 18/6 they were called again and a new card and PIN were ordered. All sent out to my address and apparently they passed the security questions. They also rang the various merchants and have identified an African couple as the perpetrators and could obtain CCTV. I was flabbergasted.. In 8 years of having the account I haven’t used CHIP & Pin or made cash withdrawals. I immediately went to look for all my statements..(I don’t really look at them when they come as I constantly check my debits/credits online. There it was discovered my May/June statement was missing and my May statement for my personal acc with another provider. From further talks with the bank I believe their security is too easy, it uses factual information available on statements and date of birth. Of course, because the fraudsters have access somehow to my mail they know this information and as I am sole director of the company, my date of birth, addresses etc.. are all available on Companies House. So now they are looking into. Transactions alerts must have come up. But all the fraudster needed to do was call the bank and go through there easy peasy security questions again to unblock. It has been over a week and I still don’t know what’s happening. The police won’t talk to me as they say the bank needs to investigate. I am beginning to think somehow the blame is going to be on me? The bank said the debits were made local and they are young? Like you… she said. I am now in a total panic as I can’t work out how somebody is accessing my mail. Ive had to call all banks and warn them.. (some couldn’t care less) Also guess what, I received a letter yesterday saying telephone banking credentials were recently issued to all customers? Obviously this seems to be the issue. This was never received! Also they tried to order new telephone security numbers for my partners LTSB acc – Guess what,,, LTSB have been fantastic and blocked the acc until he attends the branch with ID!

Si says:
17 July 2013

Hi need help my card was used to make to cash withdrawels for 250 the 220 have no idea how as the card is still in my purse always had been. Reported the crime to Lloyds Tsb who said there was no way my card could be cloned as it is chip and pin. Told me to go away and investigate the crime myself and to change my pin number. Im devestated as im a single mother who struggles from day to day, the money was my wages and have had to go without for a month. I got intouch with the financial ombudsman who have since wrote to the bank, the bank rang me and said they are still sticking to the original disiction and not paying me out and they were very sorry…..WHAT A LOAD OF BULL. Please someone help me im desperate for advice

Clare Sheldon says:
18 July 2013

A similiar thing happened to me recently. I have a savings account with a debit card that I very rarely use, and have not used for any online purchase for well over a year, yet someone fraudulently used my card details to make an online purchase from a company I have never heard of. Nat West didn’t make any objections to refunding the money, so I was lucky. I would recommend getting advice from the Citizens Advice Bureau – I believe they deal with identity fraud related problems all the time.

Alain says:
15 August 2013

Do contact me if you could, I could be of some help as I once was a victim of s similar case of frsud.

[Hi Alain, we’ve removed your mobile phone number from your comment as we don’t allow personal details on Which? Conversation. Thanks, mods.]

Cheryl says:
9 December 2013

This has happened to me, not once but 3 times…i have lost over £1000. The bank insists ny card & pin were used but its just not possible.

Hi Alain, thanks for offering to help some of our commenters. You’ll spot we’ve removed your contact details from your comments as we don’t allow personal details to be exchanged on the site.
If there are any comments or tips you’d like to share, it would be great if you could do so through commenting on the post. Thanks, Charlotte

Alain says:
24 January 2014

Charlotte I do perfectly understand you got rules, however, they are confidential information that can not be put here on comments so giving victims a plate form is good but supporting them to meet and organise themselves would be much better indeed. .

David says:
11 January 2014

My story is very much the same as the other victims of fraud but I will tell my story anyway.

I partly live over in Greece where I sometimes also work.
I went shopping once and wanted to test my maestro debit card which is registered in an ING bank ( Belgium ) I travel a lot !
The shop in Greece accepted my card and I purchased the goods.
Two days later a purchase was made for 150 euro from a village in Greece I have never been and never even heard of.

Next day a withdrawal of 200 euro was made from my account and the day after another 200 was taken, this is when I saw the discrepancies and cancelled the card.

I informed the bank who apparently sent the details to their fraud dept who carried out an investigation ??.

They seemed to presume that I was in Greece having a great time getting drunk and being reckless with my card and card pin number, they therefore have refused to pay me back the monies.

I have sent many mails to the banks fraud dept but they refuse to consider that it was fraud and continue to state that it was all my fault, the Belgian financial ombudsman refuses to even reply to my complaint.
I am extremely careful with my card and card details, the card was in my possession throughout the period.
I do not know how they committed the fraud but I do know that the banks and their fraud departments are fully aware that this fraud exists and is happening all the time, they just refuse to acknowledge it , for how long they can get away with this I don’t know but my letters of complaint will continue regardless.

David Storey says:
25 January 2014

LLoyds TSB seems to crop up an awful lot in this trail of comments.

David Storey says:
25 January 2014

Ha! I’ve just received a replacement debit card for my wife, but no pin yet and no sign of my replacement and pin. Right at the bottom of the accompanying letter it says ” safe and secure. Your new visa debit card is covered for fraud, so if there’s a problem we’ll put it right. And if you’re a silver account holder you have Sentinel card protection – call us for more information”.

Now if that isn’t false and misleading advertising, I don’t know what is. Sentinel do not cover any fraud whatsoever. We are gold account holders so I rang them and got short shrift.

Along with my wife’s replacement card was a standard “we’ve bounced your recent direct debit” letter for a returned phone bill DD that was out of control while they faffed on with the fraudulent debits that they allowed to go through.

What an absolute mess this all is and what a chew I will have trying to restore my credit rating once it’s resolved.

I’m glad my income tax bail out and £12 a month account fee is being put to such good use.

Shah says:
8 March 2014

£500 went missing from my halifax account, when i went to ask them about this. They said i used my card and pin to withdraw £500 in one transaction. Even though £300 is the max daily withdrawal. I proved i was at work and the assistant at halifax claimed it was my mothrr who went and withdrew the money from a cash machine( who by the way was in hospital in icu at the time) when we asked for proof( the so called picture of my mother they refused, where do i go from here?

Alain says:
9 March 2014

Just ask Halifax to provide you with the transaction chryptogram of the disputed transaction as this should clearly establish the authenticity of the transaction ig yhey can’t produce it yhen they have to pay you the money back read my case Job v Halifax similar to yours.

mimi32 says:
9 April 2014

Im with tsb and since joining them I have had almost £2000 been taken from same company and when first reported they blamed me and still payments kept coming off reported again and because I went to financial ombudsman they refused to deal we other transactions which I find unacceptable and they are blaming me for them even tho not in my name or none of my details match its frustrating because im a single mum of 4 and don’t work and saved along time for that money but the funny thing I found they foned me for £50 worth of transaction to see if fraud but didn’t ring for £2000 worth and blaming me ive went to ombudsman but expected to wait up 2 12 weeks anything else can do

Deb says:
29 May 2014

I have just returned fro holiday in U.S.A. I checked my online banking on my return & I noticed we were overdrawn by £1000. This amount had been used to make deposits on 7 lots of different car insurances. Non of them made by us.. We did not use the card on holiday as we had cash passport. The last time we used the card was at a hotel at Manchester Airport the night before we flew. How come the bank did not notice these transactions?? I had to ring up & cancel card & notify them of the situation. I now feel like the criminal. Barclays have paid the money back in to our account. After being questioned like a thief & having to fill out paper work. I’m still receiving phone calls from them. I am totally gutted that someone could get in to our bank account so easily & that Barclays did not notice what was going on,,,

Emma says:
10 June 2014

Hi my card has been cloned twice now. Cash withdrawals of more than 3000! Halifax bank has rejected my claim as they are sporadic and seem to be done using my chip and pin. Lets say I’m not a happy customer and will be going to the financial ombudsman!

Chic says:
3 October 2014

Woke up this morning to find 240 pounds missing from my bank account (Natwest). First thing I did was make sure my card was still in my purse, it was. I then phoned the bank im with to say said money is missing from my account and they fired some questions at me.

(a) do you have a phone and what network are you with? I told them and they did a check and security has not been breached.
(b) do you have a laptop and who is your provider? I told them and they did a check and security has not been breached.
(c) do you use any other laptops or pcs other than ones at home? yes and they did a check and no security has not been breached.

This person rang Natwest at 00:10am claiming to be me telling the bank that the card I own was lost and needed money. Security questions were asked to which this person passed and a pin number was gave to access my account and he/she emptied and wiped it out. This was all done in London, I live in Northern Ireland and have never been to London. It seems that this is an inside job and many other people have also been stung and Natwest aren’t owning upto it! this is now with the bank and their fraud team and the police have also been notified. The bank tells me the money will be replaced by 6pm this evening…..it better bloody be!! im not happy one bit about this.

ellen says:
19 October 2014

i received a call yesterday and was told that a direct debit has been set up in my name with my bank particulars with some fundraising company(I can’t remember the name of that company unfortunately as i was still sleepy and i knew i didn’t).Then he started telling my bank details, my home address and everything, it was then I jumped out of my bed and tried to explain that guy that I had not made any such commitments…but he then hung up ..i immediately checked my bank account my money was there.I called my Lloydsbank, but they said that they couldn’t help me in any way because money had not been stolen yet..i don’t know what to do now as that guy knew all my details my card details …need suggestions…and can anyone tell my if i report my card stolen what would happen to my already set up direct debits?..will my new issued card have the new number and pin? and how will it affect my already set up direct debits?

ellen, go to the Action Fraud website and make a report. Get a crime number. If that fundraising company takes money from your account, you’ll be able to quote the number in any contact with lawyers and police.

You should probably cancel your card and ask for a replacement with a new card number. If this happens again, open a new account with Lloyds and close the old one.

Worried says:
18 November 2014

I’ve just returned from the US and realised my debit card was missing. When I checked my account I found that £490 had been withdrawn in 4 transactions from the same ATM machine. When I reported it to my bank I told them that all 4 transactions were fraudulent but now I remember making a cash withdrawal at that ATM and I suspect I may have left my card in the ATM. I want to be honest but I’m worried that my bank will either think I’m lying or claim I was negligent and won’t refund the money. When I reported it they told me that all the withdrawals used my pin and card so they need to investigate.

Does anyone have any experience or advice on this?

I went to a gentlemens club in London. I was made to ring the card company by the club as they said it was CC not working. Credit Card company refusing to refund as fraud as saying I approved transaction and was drunk.

Strange thing on CC my statement I have transaction from what looks like a front web site with a collection taken in Gibraltar for £3000 and another £10000 to taxi payment firm. The company behind the website was struck off 2 years ago.

CC company saying I approved the transactions but this is not what I would have approved and i think i am the victim of a clever scam.

What can I do. I have reported to Action Fraud but I dont think the CC company has done much of an investigation. They say they have an invoice for £3000 limmo hire againt the webite with my signature.

buzz.m says:
10 December 2014

I was withdrawing money from ATM. All of sudden, Two strangers came from behind and one of them stood right next to me and cancelled the transaction. I was shocked and enquired why they did so, and the guy standing behind replied “The ATM is currently not working and my card stuck in machine as well”. After the transaction cancelled I stood there to collect my card but I couldn’t. So I believed that my card got stuck in the machine too. I tried to reach the stewards over there to get help, but I couldn’t find any.

At the next moment I tried calling customer care in order to block my card. While speaking to the representative I happened to know that there were transactions being made without my knowledge. The representative mentioned that five disputed transactions of 2517.47£ (300 pounds were refunded immediately by the bank, which is taken from ATM). I went to local police station to officially lodge a complaint but they suggested me to report the same in actionfraud.police.uk.

I am still waiting for the response from Bank. Bank said they need 20 days for investigation. Could you please help me do I need to contact financial ombudsman OR anyone can help me?

I am a retailer. Two guys came to my shop and bought a lot of booze and cigarettes. Their cards didn’t have chip and pin and the swipe didn’t work and when was asked to punch card numbers the transaction went through .These guys had a few cards and the shopping was bit unusual so i phoned the Barclay anti fraud line and made them aware of the situation. This guy on anti fraud told me if the cards are going through than there is nothing the shopkeeper can do , it does look dubious but just carry serving and do not deny service and he took the card numbers from me .
After the first round the two customers came back and did a lot of shopping and again punch the numbers in the machine and the transaction went through.The customers said they will be back for more. I was terrified at what was happening and I phoned anti fraud line and the guy said same stuff .He took the numbers of the card and said next time they come just give us a call after they have shopped. This was on 5 jan 2015.
On 7 jan 2015 I got a call from barclays bank that they have took money from my account because the cards were cloned.
I believe barclays have used me as a guinea pig to find cloned cards, at all financial costs to me , the retailer.Anti fraud department could have done something to at least minimise my losses rather than msiguiding and misleading into more losses. Is this how they plan to catch the cloned cards ? I am absolutely disheartened at this and need some advice and direction.


Nicky says:
3 February 2015

While on a night out my card was used 5 times without my knowledge. The amounts vary from £40.06 up to £759.60 but are all at the same place. I noticed within 36hrs and informed my bank.
They have now informed me they are legitimate transactions as the PIN number was used?!
The transactions show no comparison to my banking history and the total amount taken is more than my monthly income.
I understand the banks will instantly rely on “legitimate transactions” as their defence but where do I stand if I have an agreed overdraft of £100 and the banks allowed transactions of 13 times this amount? My history shows I have never gone over my £100 overdraft limit before, therefore surely the bank has shown “gross negligence”…….please advise, they’re driving me nuts. Maybe they should be doing more to stop the actual criminals rather than treating their customers like criminals!

Julia Michell says:
5 February 2015

Fraudsters have just made 2 withdrawals out of my husband’s account, cleaned it out. First off Barclays operator said he was going to recommend an immediate refund & to expect a phone call within 24 hours. They couldn’t get through to my husband because he has a mobile phone, given to him, that he doesn’t know how to operate so he cannot get incoming calls, he forgot the password or something. So he calls them and they insist he waits 10 working days, not from the date he reported it but from the date he phoned a second time. Ironic, as my husband is incredibly careful with his money, documenting every spend and worries about the bank taking money from his account for spurious reasons hence a savings account for his pension which he transfers into a current account ready to draw out. In this case he was abroad. The money was transferred from his savings account into his current account them paid in 2 lots to separate names. How did they do this and why can’t the bank figure out whose bank accounts these are? He is now having to borrow money and make hefty phone calls from abroad. So much for Barclays promise to pay back immediately unless they think you have acted deliberately or with gross negligence, what a joke.

Mira says:
3 March 2015

I’ve had £19,000 taken from my savings account during a period of July-November 2014 from my savings account. I’ve only taken £300 out of the account and saved up the rest for my sons future. I contacted the bank immediately when I found out, they blocked the cards sent me new ones, still there was fraudelent activity going on in my accounts. It was from the same atm as usual at Barclays branch. 1 month later I got a call from fraud team department saying my card and pin has been used so I’m liable for this. Even though I was in hospital giving birth, according to statements someone was withdrawing £300 early morning and then the same thing next day, while I was stuck in hospital due to complications during birth. And I’m being blamed for going to that atm while stuck in maternity! I keep the pin in my head, and cards locked in a box so I’m fuming! Barclays refuses to investigate further, police don’t recognise this as a crime and financial ombudsman are agreeing with the bank. I’m on a verge of killing myself, I’ve lost all my hope with humanity and on top of it all I had to put my dog down, cus he had cancer on his leg and I couldn’t afford to take him to a specialist. It’s hard. It’s really hard. I’ve even written a sucidial letter to my 4 month old son so he can read it when he gets older. I’m just so fed up with life now… All my savings… Gone. And it’s ridiculous because I know it’s not even my fault. Barclays are pleased to loose a customer I’m sure.

Hello Mira, we are very concerned about you so we will be in touch directly over email.

For others, we have two new guides on how to deal with card fraud which will present you with all the steps on what to do if you’re affected: http://www.which.co.uk/consumer-rights/problem/my-card-has-been-lost-or-stolen-and-used-to-purchase-goods http://www.which.co.uk/consumer-rights/action/how-to-complain-if-your-card-is-stolen-and-youre-refused-a-refund

Mira says:
28 May 2015

Hi I never received my money back. Financial ombudsman has stopped investigation and I feel just so empty inside. They know I wasn’t able to use my card, and they let the fraudsters win. I just cannot believe this. I can’t believe why the bank is so against me! Nobody is on my side, I can’t even buy my son a high chair, because I have to prioritise my sons food only. If I knew all this would happen, I would never have my baby. Money worries constantly. I’ve even considered adopting him because I’m always skint. He’s bloody lovely it’s gonna be hard of letting him go. Thanks Barclays, for everything

buzz.m says:
5 March 2015

I got my money back after lot of calls to customer care and a visit to branch,police station… I got my money when I was loosing hopes…

Nicky says:
7 March 2015

Hi, my details have been used in January on my Amazon & Paypal account. I reported these transactions immediately. Both American transactions including conversion to usd. My bank refunded Amazon transactions immediately but now i have just received a letter stating there was no evidence it wasn’t me. They bought 8 items (kindle books) all the same bolm clsys etc in 8 separate transactions. My bank never picked up on this. Also in Jan someone has used my paypal account to buy a camera in America at £3,000!!! Luckily that never left my bank but paypal chasing me. I don’t know where to turn, i feel sick with worry. Can somebody please offer some advice on what to do next. Thank you

Hi Nicky, thanks for your message. I’m sorry to hear about the problems you’ve had with Amazon but I’m glad to see your bank has intervened on your behalf. In your position, I would get in touch with Amazon for advice about the security of your online account, as well as get in touch with your bank: