Can’t be too careful

In late 2023, Charlie and his partner were on holiday in South Africa and decided to visit a shopping centre. On their way into the shopping centre, a stranger approached Charlie and his partner and told them to insert their travel cards into a nearby ATM to get a receipt. The stranger told Charlie and his partner that they needed receipts from the ATM to enter the shopping centre.

Charlie’s partner followed the stranger’s instructions, inserted his travel card into the ATM, and entered his PIN. The ATM did not return Charlie’s partner’s card. The stranger then told Charlie to insert another card to retrieve his partner’s card. Charlie did as the stranger instructed and entered his PIN. Both cards became stuck in the ATM.

Soon after, a man approached Charlie and his partner claiming to be a security guard and told them to get help. When Charlie and his partner left to find help, the two men disappeared. Charlie and his partner were not able to retrieve their travel cards from the ATM.

Three transactions were made on Charlie’s card before Charlie contacted the card issuer. Charlie asked the card issuer to block his travel card. He reported the incident to the local police and asked the card issuer to reimburse him for the money that was stolen. Charlie told the card issuer that his PIN had been compromised due to the scam.

Complaint

The card issuer declined Charlie’s request for reimbursement. The card issuer said that the transactions Charlie disputed were completed using the correct PIN, meaning Charlie did not protect his card details as required by their terms and conditions.

Charlie complained to FSCL.

Dispute

Charlie felt that the card issuer should reimburse him for the money that was stolen from his travel card.

The card issuer said that they were not responsible for the money that was stolen from Charlie’s card. The card issuer said that Charlie had breached their terms and conditions by entering his PIN into the ATM.

Review

We reviewed Charlie’s account information with the card issuer, and the statements that Charlie made to South African police.   

We did not think it was not fair to hold the card issuer responsible for the unauthorised transactions on Charlie’s travel card. We found that Charlie had not taken all reasonable steps to protect his card details and PIN.

The card issuer’s records showed that the disputed transactions were made using the correct PIN, meaning the scammers obtained Charlie’s PIN when he entered it at the ATM.

By following the scammers’ instructions and entering his PIN into the ATM, Charlie gave them access to his card account, even though he did not intend to.

Resolution

There was nothing to show that the card issuer had contributed to Charlie’s loss.

We explained to Charlie that we could not hold the card issuer responsible for his stolen funds.

Insights for consumers

This case highlights the importance of keeping card details and PINs secure. It is crucial to be cautious when using ATMs, especially when you are overseas. Financial service providers expect customers to protect their card details to prevent unauthorised transactions.

If you are asked to do something unusual, such as putting your card in an ATM to gain access to a shopping centre, it pays to check with someone else that the request is legitimate.