Up to 2m people to get card protection compensation
Up to two million credit card users who bought a card security product called Card Protection, Sentinel or Safe and Secure Plus may be entitled to compensation.
The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) said customers were sold the product – a type of insurance to cover fraudulent use of lost or stolen cards – unnecessarily by banks, credit card companies and Affinion International between January 2005 and August 2013.
The protection – also sold under the product names Sentinel Gold, Protection and Excel – covered customers for up to £100,000 of unauthorised transactions made after a card was reported as lost or stolen.
However, the FCA found that "customers did not need this cover, as their bank or card issuer is typically responsible for any transactions after they tell it their card has been lost or stolen".
Another feature of the product was that it covered customers for up to £5,000 of unauthorised transactions that occurred before a card was reported as lost or stolen.
But again the regulator said this was unnecessary, as customers can only be held liable for unauthorised transactions in "limited circumstances". It reiterated that their bank or card issuer will usually cover them for anything over the first £50 of such transactions.
While the products are still sold, they no longer contain the unnecessary fraud insurance cover.
Affected customers, who bought or renewed their policies during the period outlined above, will receive a letter from AI Scheme Limited outlining the compensation scheme proposal, which must be voted for by eligible customers and approved by the High Court before it can be paid, which is not expected to happen until September at the earliest.
If the scheme is passed, customers will receive their money back plus interest of 8% a year.
The FCA has warned that scammers could target eligible customers and that AI Scheme Limited will never make contact by email or telephone. Customers should also not use and pay a company to claim compensation on their behalf.
The FCA said that customers with a card security product linked to a bank account, such as packaged bank account, will not be eligible for compensation.
Aside from Affinion, the compensation scheme will apply to products sold by:
- AIB Group (UK) (trading as First Trust Bank in Northern Ireland and Allied Irish Bank (GB) in Great Britain)
- Barclays Bank
- Capital One (Europe)
- Clydesdale Bank
- Northern Bank Limited (Danske Bank)
- Santander UK
- Tesco Personal Finance
- The Co-operative Bank
- The Royal Bank of Scotland
Consumers who need further information can call the helpline on 0800 678 1930.
Used by the holder to buy goods and services, credit cards also have a monthly or annual spending limit, which may be raised or lowered depending on the creditworthiness of the cardholder. But unlike charge cards, borrowers aren’t forced to pay the balance off in full every month and, as long as they make a stated minimum payment, can carry a balance from one month to the next, generating compound interest. As the issuing company is effectively giving you a short-term loan, most credit cards have variable and relatively high interest rates. Allowing the interest to compound for too long may result in dire financial straits.