The fraudulent marauder

Claire was on a 21-day tour of Rajasthan when she needed to withdraw some cash. Claire’s tour guide took her to an ATM and waited outside while she attempted the withdrawal. The ATM, which was in an enclosed booth, required Claire to insert her card before it read the card and then required her PIN.

After inserting her card and entering her PIN, a man emerged from behind the ATM saying “no money, no money.” A flustered Claire pushed cancel and left the booth. She did not make another attempt at withdrawing money that day.

Here days later Claire discovered that 35,200 Indian Rand (INR) (approximately $720 NZD) had been deducted from her account around the time of her attempted withdrawal. Given Claire had not obtained any cash in recent times, she believed that the transaction was fraudulent.

Claire followed the necessary process, disputing the transaction with her travel card provider and reporting the suspected theft to the police.

Claire’s tour coincided with the demonetisation of a number of Indian currency denominations. This occurred on 8 November without warning and plunged India into chaos with limited maximum withdrawals (according to Claire, of 10,000 INR.)

When the travel card provider refused to reimburse Claire for the disputed transaction, Claire complained to FSCL.

 

Claire’s view

Claire believed the travel card provider had failed to ensure the security of her money by allowing another person to fraudulently access her account.

Claire reasoned that because she had not let anyone see her PIN or lost possession of her card, the travel card provider was responsible for reimbursing her for the disputed transaction.

Claire also pointed out that her account statement showed the withdrawal occurred in New Delhi, while she was more than 600km away in Rajasthan. Claire felt she must have been the victim of fraud because, with the upcoming demonetisation, all ATMs in India would only dispense a limit of 10,000 INR, rather than the 35,000 INR that was withdrawn in this instance.

Claire was also disappointed with the level of service provided by the travel card provider. While she got in touch with the travel card provider as soon as she realised she had suffered the loss, it did not confirm her request for reimbursement, nor had it clarified any issues before declining her claim.

The travel card provider took over two weeks to respond to Claire’s complaint about the level of service. The travel card provider then referred Claire to its Australian dispute resolution scheme, and not FSCL.

 

Travel card provider’s view

The travel card provider was hesitant to reimburse Claire because the disputed ATM transaction was made using the card and correct PIN to authorise the withdrawal. The travel card provider reasoned, given there were no incorrect PIN attempts or declined transactions, the thief was in possession of both the card and the pin to make the transaction.

In the travel card’s experience, ‘skimming’ of a card could not take place during the fleeting seconds in which this card was in the machine. Because Claire confirmed that she had not lost possession of the card or allowed any party to observe the PIN, the travel card provider concluded that the most logical explanation was that Claire had failed to press cancel. The travel card provider’s system did not show whether Claire had pushed cancel or not. It only registered when there was a request for funds.

The travel card provider thought Claire had unwittingly given the man in the booth access to her account when she became flustered and failed to push cancel.

 

Review

We believed the most logical explanation was that Claire had not pushed cancel. This may have been because she pushed the wrong button or she had pushed cancel on her transaction.

We explained to Claire that we must look at the evidence in front of us. There was nothing to suggest skimming, so the most logical explanation was that she did not push cancel. There were no other disputed transactions and the travel card provider showed that the PIN and card had been used concurrently. If a fraudulent party had possession of Claire’s card for an extended period of time, it was highly likely they would have attempted to make more withdrawals than the 35,000 INR they withdrew.

We thought that the travel card provider’s service when Claire questioned the unauthorised withdrawal could have been better.

 

Outcome

After some negotiation, the travel card provider offered Claire $500 in settlement of her complaint. Claire accept offer.

 

 Key insights for consumers

It pays to be super-vigilant at ATMs while travelling, and to always ensure you have properly cancelled a transaction when you decide not to proceed with a withdrawal.