Customer responsible for transactions after handing over card details

Cards and PINs,
In December 2021, Atarangi’s bank detected unusual activity on his debit card and contacted him to check whether it was him making the purchases. He said it was not him, adding that a former friend who had been staying with him had probably got hold of his card details. The bank put a stop on his card and told him to go to a branch and dispute the transactions. The following day he called the bank and asked it to block access to his savings account. He also said he knew it was his former friend who had made the transactions and that he might have taken a photo of his card.
January 2023

The bank said the card was still stopped, so his former friend could no longer use it. The bank repeated that he should go to a branch, dispute the transactions and get a new card. Atarangi went to a branch and got a new card, but he did not dispute the transactions. Some months later, he challenged some of the transactions, including $12,000 of online purchases between October and December 2021, and $60,000 of withdrawals, mostly made at branches, along with some automatic payments. Atarangi asked the bank to reimburse him for these transactions. It declined, saying he had breached the terms and conditions of his card by allowing this former friend to access his card, thereby enabling the online transactions. It also said it had information showing he had authorised all other transactions. He did not accept the bank's response and asked us to investigate.

Our investigation

Atarangi told us he had been very depressed because of the end of a relationship and had been drinking heavily, including while his former friend had been staying with him, and that during these drinking sessions he would give his card to this individual to use. He accepted this meant the bank was not responsible for the transactions made online with his card details, but he continued to dispute withdrawals made in branches totalling $16,000. He believed the bank should reimburse him for these transactions unless it could prove with CCTV footage it was him making them, noting that his former friend had probably got his passport and pretended to be him. We told him many of the large branch withdrawals (totalling $13,500) had been authorised with his card and PIN, and that the information appeared to show the bank had taken steps to verify it was him making the remaining branch withdrawals he was disputing (totalling $2,300). The information showed the bank had obtained and verified his passport details and obtained his signature, which matched his signature from transactions he was not disputing. We told him that, based on this information, it was hard not to conclude the bank had obtained his authority for the transactions. Atarangi accepted this and asked whether the bank would be prepared to make a goodwill offer to him. It was prepared to do so, offering him $1,000.


Atarangi accepted the bank's offer as full and final settlement of his complaint.

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