These case studies have been modified so as not to identify any actual cases at FIDReC. They are provided for purposes of learning and are not necessarily indicative of outcomes at FIDReC.
Tom went on an overseas holiday with his friends and they went out to a pub on their last night. He and his friends drank till the early hours of the morning. Tom was in a celebratory mood and paid for everyone’s drinks with his credit card. He and his friends left for their hotel at 3am. Tom only woke up at 2pm the next day and hurriedly rushed to catch his flight back to Singapore with his friends. After he arrived in Singapore, he realised that one of his credit cards was missing. He took some time to search around and eventually made a police report and called the bank to report the loss 3 days later.
However, in the meantime, someone had gone on a shopping spree with Tom’s credit card and bought various items to the tune of $7,000. The bank billed Tom for this amount, but Tom disagreed. He brought his case to FIDReC. At mediation, the bank offered to settle the matter with Tom by giving him a 30% “discount”. However, Tom refused this offer and chose to proceed with adjudication.
At adjudication, Tom argued that he had notified both the police and the bank once he was sure his card was lost. The bank countered that the facts suggested that Tom had not been careful with his credit card and should have reported its loss more promptly.
Having heard both parties the Adjudicator ruled in favour of the bank. The Adjudicator reasoned that Tom was unable to recount how his card went missing. It was not disputed that Tom was high after several hours of drinking and when he paid the bill with his credit card at the pub. More likely than not, a tipsy Tom had lost his card then. It was more than 3 days later that Tom reported the loss of his card. The Adjudicator ruled that Tom had been negligent. Thus, Tom had to pay the full sum of $7,000.
Key Learning Points
• Do not assume that because you made a report to the police and to the bank about the loss of your credit card, this means that you will not be liable for fraudulent purchases made with it. Typically, the bank will also require that you take all reasonable steps to help recover or stop the use of the card, that you did not cause or contribute to the loss or theft, and that the loss or theft was not due to your negligence, fraudulent act or default.
• The Adjudicator considers all relevant facts in finding whether you have been negligent and also applies the terms and conditions between you and your credit-card issuing bank. Then he determines whether you are liable or not.
• In this scenario, Tom should have accepted the bank’s offer at the mediation session at FIDReC. Once the case proceeds to adjudication, the bank can – and often will – withdraw its offer to settle. Don’t be too quick to dismiss an offer made at mediation and try to think objectively about how strong your case really is.
• When you go overseas, mind the bar that you are going to! There are cases where patrons allege that they have been forced to sign or present their credit card for exorbitant drinks bills, and they later try to avoid paying their credit card bill. Do note that for chip-read and card-present transactions (meaning, both cardholder and the microchip-embedded credit card, which is more secure, were physically present at the point of sale), it will be more challenging for you to dispute the transaction.
• If you have several credit cards, be more careful as a loss of one of your cards may not be immediately apparent to you. Your credit card is valuable and should be treated as such. If you default in paying your bank for credit card charges, for whatever reasons, you may end up having an adverse credit record.
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