Woman divulged PIN during ruse by thief

Common scams targeting bank customers,
Kiri took a phone call at work from someone saying she had won a $1,000 gift voucher. The caller asked for a four-digit password to redeem her voucher. She gave three, each of which the caller said was already taken. The caller gave her a random password to use and hung up. Unknown to her, her handbag containing two eftpos cards had been stolen from work. The so-called voucher was merely a ruse to try to get the PINs for her cards.
March 2019

The offender took $6,000 in purchases and cash withdrawals. When Kiri realised her handbag was gone and became aware of the theft, she cancelled her cards and asked the bank to reimburse her.

The bank said it was not liable because Kiri had not taken care of her cards as specified in her accounts’ terms and conditions. She had left her bag in an unsecured place and been careless with her PINs, which were the same for both cards. It understood she had disclosed the numbers making up her PIN when she gave the offender the three four-digit passwords.  The offender used her responses to work out her PIN.

However, the bank offered to reimburse half of her loss as a goodwill gesture. Kiri did not accept the offer because she didn’t think she had done anything wrong and complained to us. 

Our investigation

Kiri told us she did not give the offender her PIN, but our investigation suggested otherwise because:

  • She had told the bank she might have given the offender her PIN.
  • She told the police she had done so.

The offender entered her PIN correctly on the first attempt for both cards, indicating the individual obtained the PIN from the cardholder.

Clearly, Kiri was using her PINs for more than one purpose, whereas we recommend customers have a different PIN for each card and not use the PINs for any other purpose.

We therefore encouraged Kiri to reconsider the bank’s offer because she appeared to have contributed to the loss. 


Kiri accepted the bank’s offer. 

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