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How to get money back from a bank: sue them - Ross Anderson

30 March 2010  |  11370 views  |  4 wallet

Customers that see dodgy transactions on their cards and want to get their money back from the bank should skip the usual complaints procedure and sue, according to renowned Cambridge payments security expert Ross Anderson.

Anderson's advice, proffered on a Cambridge University technical blog, comes on the back of his own experience with NatWest. The professor says a debit of £126.51 to "Ian Travel Services" on a credit card used by his wife mysteriously appeared last June.

After calls to NatWest proved fruitless, Anderson wrote to the bank asking to reverse the transaction or provide evidence "that it was made with our mandate".

Following protracted discussion over several months, detailed on the blog, Anderson decided to change tack and sue NatWest in the small claims court.

The bank settled at once.

Anderson says this may be "entirely rational behaviour" from the bank, with many customers simply giving up on their attempts to get refunds.

"So now you know - suing the bank is the fastest, simplest and least-hassle way of getting your money back," although he also warns disgruntled customers to ensure their cases remains on the small claims track and not allow then to be moved to fast track, as happened in the Alain Job case, costing him £15,000.


Comments: (4)

Keith Richbell
Keith Richbell - eftpos Payments Australia Ltd. (ePAL) - Sydney | 31 March, 2010, 03:19

This advice is about as useful as a chocolate teapot. Just what the courts need - more claims from people who allow partners to use their cards and from the clinically absent minded who can't remember what day it is.

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Keith Appleyard
Keith Appleyard - available for hire - Bromley | 31 March, 2010, 09:54

No need to go to Court as a first resort : this case originated back in June 2009; since November 2009 there has been a change in legislation : you now have up to 13 months to query a transaction - no matter what MasterCard bylaws state.

(reproduced verbatim below)
"If there is an unauthorised transaction on your credit card account you should dispute it without undue delay (and no later than 13 months after the transaction).
It is for the bank, building society or credit card company to show that the transaction was made by you and there was no breakdown in procedures or technical difficulty.
If you've not authorised the payment then your credit card company must immediately refund you the transaction amount unless they have some evidence suggesting you may not be entitled to a refund because of the way you have acted. In these cases the credit card company must investigate the claim, but must do so as quickly as possible."

Banks & Credit Card companies now have to keep all the data readily available for 13 months, just in case you make a claim a year later. They can't dismiss your claim citing they no longer have any records of the event. If they didn't keep any records, then since they can't prove their case - you win.

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A Finextra member
A Finextra member | 31 March, 2010, 15:52

Illegitimi non carborundum!

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Andrew Muir
Andrew Muir - SWIFT - | 01 April, 2010, 10:56

In defence of the Illegitimi, I queried a small debit last summer (someone had raided my credit card to buy an i-tune) and was immediately a) refunded and b) provided with a new card.

I know it was a small thing - but representative of the way in which my card provider has dealt with several problems I have had over the years, most of which they spotted before I did.

I agree with my Antipodean friend - courts are last resorts. We seem to keep forgetting that polite, respectful negotiation is almost invariably quicker, more effective and more rewarding for both sides.

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