Has anyone stolen your card or have you lost it? The first thing you should do is call up the bank's 24-hour call centre. You have to be prompt in your action otherwise, you may end up with a huge outstanding balance if someone else misuses your card.
Lost card: Customer is liable
In India, credit card companies have a provision in their contract with the customer that the company is not liable for fraudulent transactions unless the customer reports the loss immediately. Sometimes, banks provide that cardholders enjoy a zero lost credit card liability only after the loss is reported to the bank in writing/or via telephone.
What does this mean?
'Zero liability' means that you need not pay a single penny if your credit card is stolen or has been subjected to fraudulent practices. However, in India, this liability policy comes into effect only after the customer informs the bank.
When you call at bank's 24-hour call centre number, the tele-banking executive will confirm few personal details to ensure that you are the original card holder. Subsequently, the card is deactivated with immediate effect. After this, you carry zero liability on any fraudulent transactions on your card.
Some banks offer some leeway. ABN Amro Bank, for instance, offers an insurance cover, which takes care of any fraudulent practice till the card is deactivated. The premium of this cover works to around Rs 100 per month. The minimum / maximum amount of the insurance cover is Rs 2,000/Rs 5,000. Says ABN Amro's consumer banking head Sumant Kathpalia, "We do not market the insurance cover along with the credit card. It is optional and the borrower can avail, if needed."
Even SBI Card has capped the lost card liability up to a maximum of Rs 1,000. This protects you against misuse of your card up to a stipulated time till you report the loss to us in writing.
Industry experts say, as per international standards, you do not have any responsibility for unauthorised charges after you report the card loss to the concerned bank. But, what is different in other developed economies like the US is that the maximum liability on the customer is capped at $50 per credit card.
In some cases, this fee is also waived off if the customer has shown a good financial discipline. In case, you report the card loss on the second day, your liability increases to $100. If you wait for three days, your liability shoots to $500. If you wait for more than 60 days, you are liable for every single payment.
Explains a senior-ex banker, "The customer is well protected from credit card frauds in countries like US. Even if the customer fails to notice the credit card loss, he/she will at least realise when they receive the monthly statement. So, the 60-day limit is never tested and liability for thefts is limited at $500 prior to 60 days."
Why is it different here?
When the credit card companies were asked a question, why the liability wholly shifts to the customers, this is what they have to say, "Bank runs out of money if the card is swiped. There has to be a charge back-process and the customer bears the brunt if the loss is not reported immediately," said one banker.
Explains a senior banker who handles the credit card portfolio in a private bank, "We are familiar with the cardholders spending pattern over a period of time. When a credit card is stolen, it is immediately swiped on large transactions over a period of few hours to two days. If we see a drastic change in the spending pattern or in case any such large transaction, we call up the customer personally and check if he/she has carried out a transaction. If it's an online transaction, we also send an email. This largely curbs the possibility of the customers to pay huge outstanding amounts on fraudulent transactions."
He argues, when the bank takes cautious steps to ensure the authenticity of such transactions, the least a customer can do is report the card loss immediately.
Source : Economic Times