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Banks refusing to refund victims of card fraud

Which? reveals the firms with the worst records for handling fraud complaints

Barclays is unfairly rejecting card fraud claims in more than a third of cases, according to a new Which? Money investigation. 

Financial fraud costs the UK an incredible £2m every day, largely driven by debit and credit card fraud, which accounted for 80% of losses in 2016.

Banks must refund customers immediately – unless they have grounds to suspect wrongdoing – but firms don’t always get this right. 

Between April 2015 and February 2017, the Financial Ombudsman Service (which handles unresolved complaints with financial companies) resolved 5,800 complaints related to fraud and disputed transactions, and upheld 28% of them in favour of customers.

Which? can exclusively reveal that Barclays has the worst record for handling fraud-related complaints, with an uphold rate of more than a third (36%). Even the best of the banks we looked at, TSB, had unfairly rejected one in five (20%) claims.

The table below ranks firms by the worst uphold rate, indicating the customers most likely to have had their fraud claims unfairly rejected.

Complaints resolved by the FOS Upheld in favour of consumer
Barclays (inc Barclaycard) 975 36%
Santander 870 33%
Nationwide 290 28%
RBS 199 27%
NatWest 780 22%
Bank of Scotland (inc Halifax) 478 22%
Lloyds 484 22%
HSBC (inc First Direct) 493 21%
TSB 238 20%

What does the ‘uphold rate’ mean?

The uphold rate is created by looking at the outcome of all the resolved cases in the period from April 2015 to February 2017.

We’ve only included providers with more than 100 resolved cases. Disputed transactions are defined as credit and debit card fraud and this may include misplaced transactions, missing payments, ATM disputes and debits applied incorrectly by retailers.


We showed the figures to Barclays and it told us it’s working hard to tackle the root causes of complaints, stating that it has been hosting free sessions in its branches to educate customers about staying safe online and protecting customers from scams with its 16,000-strong team of ‘Digital Eagles’.

Barclays said: ‘We know from independent data that we’re making progress, but there is still more to do as these figures show. We will continue to take the action required to deliver the best possible experience for our customers.’

What is card fraud?

Fraud is constantly evolving but, broadly speaking, these are the main ways scammers can actually get their hands on your money:

  • Remote purchase fraud Also called card-not-present fraud, this is when card details are stolen (for example, through a computer virus or an unsolicited email) and used to buy goods online, by phone or by mail order.
  • Lost and stolen cards When a criminal uses a lost or stolen card to make a purchase (remotely or face-to-face) or withdraw funds from an ATM.
  • Card not received fraud When a new or replacement card is stolen in transit before you receive it.
  • Counterfeit card fraud When a fake card is created using stolen details from the magnetic strip on a genuine card. Crooks can use a cloned card in countries where chip and Pin isn’t available, such as the US.
  • Card ID theft When stolen or fake documents are used to open a new account in someone else’s name (application fraud), or when a criminal takes over an existing account.

Card fraud figures

The latest report from Financial Fraud Action UK shows that instances of card fraud have almost doubled since 2011.

This graphic highlights the volume of specific types of card fraud over the past six years, along with the value of losses:

How to stay safe: 10 ways to protect yourself against fraud and scams

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