Before leaving for an overseas trip Steve and Judy arranged travel cards with a travel card provider – Overseas Cash. Steve and Judy arrived in Paris where they checked into a hotel. Leaving their luggage in their room Steve and Judy went to see the sights. After seeing the Eiffel Tower Steve and Judy decided to have dinner at a nearby restaurant. Steve paid for dinner with cash from his wallet and hailed a cab to take them both back to the hotel. When Steve and Judy arrived back at the hotel at about 11.30pm Steve discovered his wallet was missing.
Steve waited for about three hours at the police station to report the theft. When an English speaking police officer was found the police officer said there was nothing the police could do and Steve should telephone his card providers and cancel the cards. By the time Steve cancelled all his cards the thief had already withdrawn almost the entire balance of his travel card. Fortunately no other accounts were accessed.
Steve complained to Overseas Cash saying he had loaded money onto the card believing it would be secure. Steve’s PIN had been issued by Overseas Cash when he received the card. Steve said he had written the PIN on the Overseas Cash brochure, but at the time the card was stolen the brochure was in his luggage at the hotel. Steve stressed that he is familiar with card and PIN safety and had not kept the card and PIN together.
Steve asked Overseas Cash to reimburse his loss, approximately $4,800. Overseas Cash declined, explaining its view that Steve must have breached the terms and conditions of use by keeping his card and PIN together in his wallet.
We accepted Steve’s complaint was genuine, and that he had not withheld information or deliberately misled us. However the only conclusion we could reach was that the card and PIN were in the wallet when it was stolen. We took into consideration the following factors:
- the thief needed the card and PIN to access Steve’s account
- it is likely the thief knew or had access to Steve’s PIN because it was entered correctly on the first attempt
- it is virtually impossible to correctly guess a four digit number on the first attempt
- the thief could not have overseen Steve enter the PIN because Steve had not used the card in Paris
- there was no record on Overseas Cash’s records that the thief had asked for a PIN reminder
- it is unlikely Steve was the victim of a sophisticated fraud because the thief accessed his account so quickly and
- if the thief had hacked into Cash Passport’s computer records we would have expected many more people to have been affected.
We explained to Steve that the terms and conditions warn against keeping the card and PIN together and on this basis we could not hold Overseas Cash liable for the loss.
Although not happy with the outcome Steve agreed not to take his complaint any further.