I've been a victim of an online banking scam - will my bank refund me?

8 February 2013

Q

On checking a recent bank statement, I noticed a debit for £25.51 to a company I have never heard of before. I phoned my bank straightaway only to be informed that, in fact, another payment had been made to it two weeks later, this time for £25.90. I asked the bank to stop any more payments to the company as I had not authorised them. The adviser told me that he was unable to do this and told me to call the company.I was uncomfortable doing so as when I searched for information about it online, ‘internet fraud’ and ‘online scam’ came up in the search results. However, the bank insisted I call the company, which I tried to do but its phone number came up as not recognised.The bank finally put a block on my debit card, but I’m still waiting to speak to the fraud team. While I wait, can you let me know what to expect in terms of being refunded?I am in receipt of disability benefits and cannot afford to lose money. I do not know how the fraud happened and I feel sick at the thought of ever buying online again without using my PayPal account.
From
KM, Cardiff

A

Your bank should refund any unauthorised transaction, especially if you had informed it immediately as you discovered the problem. It should also refund any charges or interest arising as a result of the transaction.

Your bank can refuse to refund you if it can prove you authorised the transaction - though it can’t just say your password or PIN were used so therefore you authorised it. It can also refuse it if it can prove you were fraudulent (unlikely in the circumstances), or that you did not take proper steps to protect your personal details such as your PIN or password, especially if you disclosed them to a third party.

Unless one of these reasons applies, the bank should make the refund immediately.

Your side of the bargain

Your bank will only refund you for unauthorised transactions if you haven’t been reckless with your details.

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So always make sure to keep your personal information such as your passwords and PINs secure. This includes using different passwords and PINs for each card or account you have and shielding your PIN when withdrawing cash at ATMs.

If your card is lost or stolen, or you think someone else knows your security details, contact your bank immediately.