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Card providers delay repayments to fraud victims

Payment card customers left waiting for cash back

Credit card deals

Nearly a third of card fraud victims are having to wait to get their money back, according to new Which? research, despite obligations on banks to refund customers immediately.

The survey of more than 4,000 Which? members revealed 29% of those card fraud victims are having to wait weeks or even months to get their cash back. 

The research found Barclays and Barclaycard customers were least likely to be reimbursed immediately with nearly four in 10 (39%) customers experiencing delays. Even the best in our snapshot survey, First Direct, delayed refunds to 17% of customers.

Overall, 98% of all victims surveyed eventually got their money back, indicating that too many card providers are being unfairly suspicious of their customers when it comes to card fraud. 

Chip and Pin concerns

One in five respondents to the survey said that they were refused immediate repayment for this reason. 

However, Which? has seen evidence that fraud can be committed when a card is used to pay for items without the cardholder divulging the correct Pin, by using technology that hoodwinks the card reader into believing a legitimate code has been entered. See the video for more. 


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Find out more about how to protect yourself from card fraud.

The best and worst card providers for delays

The table shows how long leading credit and debit card providers took to reimburse victims of card fraud who reported losses over the past five years.

Time taken to refund fraud victims
Financial provider Sample size Reimbursed immediately Total delays (up to six months) Delays of up to a month Delays of between two to six months
First Direct 47 83% 17%a 11%a 6%a
Capital One 95 81% 18%a 17%a 1%a
John Lewis/Waitrose 134 81% 17%a 13%a 4%a
HSBC 190 77% 21% 16% 5%a
Nationwide BS 245 76% 23% 20% 3%a
NatWest 316 76% 24% 19% 5%a
Smile 57 75% 21%a 21%a 0%a
Santander 88 73% 27% 22%a 5%a
Tesco Bank 168 73% 25% 20% 5%a
Bank of Scotland 57 72% 24%a 19%a 5%a
MBNA 171 71% 27% 24% 3%a
RBS 98 71% 28% 22%a 6%a
Lloyds TSB 321 70% 28% 23% 5%a
Marks and Spencer Bank 99 70% 28%a 26%a 2%a
The Co-operative Bank 185 69% 29% 20% 9%a
American Express 109 68% 32% 23% 9%a
Sainsbury’s Bank 48 67% 27%a 23%a 4%a
Eggb 61 66% 29%a 26%a 3%a
Halifax 132 64% 34% 28% 6%a
Barclays/Barclaycard 684 59% 39% 31% 8%
All 3,264c 69% 29% 23% 6%

Table notes

  1. At Which? we report on a minimum overall provider sample size of 30 to ensure our surveys are reliable and representative of the population. Marked cells mean that although the overall provider sample size is at least 30, the number of people surveyed that fall into that specific response is below 30.
  2. No longer available to new customers 
  3. Overall sample size of 3,264 does not include brands falling into the ‘other’ category.

Delays can cause financial problems

Commenting on the research findings, Which? executive director Richard Lloyd said: ‘Our research shows that banks are too often failing to refund customers immediately when they have been victims of fraud. With £340 million lost to card fraud a year, there are large sums at stake that can leave people seriously out of pocket and unable to pay essential bills.

‘Banks are required by law to give victims of fraud an immediate refund, unless they have evidence that person is acting fraudulently or with gross negligence. They should do everything they can to help people who find themselves in this situation through no fault of their own, as part of the wider big change that’s urgently needed to make banks work for customers not bankers.’

More on this… 

  • Card fraud – how to spot and avoid payment card fraud
  • Credit cards – a round-up of the best credit cards on the market
  • Bank accounts – the best current account providers revealed
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