Before Covid-19, Rita spent a few months of the year visiting her family in Jamaica. She used a pre-paid travel card on her travels and topped it up regularly. When her last trip in 2019 was cancelled due to Covid-19, Rita safely stored her card in her bedside table.
When the borders opened in early 2022, Rita travelled back to Jamaica taking her travel card with her. When she got there, the card was declined. When she logged into her account, Rita realised that $800 had been fraudulently taken from her account.
Rita contacted the travel card provider to report the fraud and requested that the money be refunded back to her under the card provider’s terms and conditions.
Rita complained to FSCL disagreeing with the card provider’s decision. How was she to know there was fraudulent activity happening on her card if she had no reason to check?
We looked at the card provider’s terms and conditions and noted that the terms relating to notifying unauthorised transactions were ambiguous.
The terms and conditions said, in one place, that a customer would be liable for an unauthorised transaction if they had failed to notify the travel card provider on becoming aware of a transaction on the card which they did not recognise.
A separate clause in the terms and conditions said that the customer must notify the travel card provider within 30 days of the relevant unauthorised transaction occurring.
It was clear that Rita had advised the card provider of the unauthorised transaction within 30 days of becoming aware of it. The second clause in the terms and conditions stating that unauthorised transactions had to be reported within 30 days of the date of the transaction contradicted this.
Given that there was an ambiguity in the card’s terms and conditions, we preferred the interpretation of the terms and conditions that favoured Rita, because she was the party who did not draft the contract.
We recommended that the provider reimburse Rita for the unauthorised transactions, a total of $800. The card provider accepted our recommendation, and the complaint was settled.
Insights for consumers
It is a good idea to regularly check the balance of your card accounts, even if your card is not used regularly. As soon as you become aware of or suspect that there has been unauthorised use of your card, you should report the unauthorised use immediately to the card provider.