After recently having had the distressing experience of our bank card details being stolen and used by the thief to make internet purchases, other Members might be interested to know that, upsetting though these events are, there can be a happy ending.
We would have remained blissfully ignorant of the fraud until receiving our next Statement had the banking system not been set up (as is normal these days) to notice any unusual activity on clients’ accounts. Thus we were alerted to the situation by a telephone call from the bank early one evening. My husband was asked if he had recently bought some goods over the internet. He was able to say quite confidently that he hadn’t. The bank then informed him that several internet transactions had, in fact, taken place and suggested that they cancel (faire opposition à) the card immediately. We were then advised to contact our Branch the following morning in order to replace the card, which we did.
But what of the money that had been stolen from the Account? After checking our contract, it seemed to us that the Bank would reimburse fraudulent transactions made using a bank card’s details i.e. when the card itself was still in the owner’s possession. We studied our Bank Statement with some trepidation and found that transactions amounting to over 450 euro had passed through the Account before the cancellation.
So, once more, we phoned our very sympathetic Branch. They told us that the first step was to go to the Gendarmerie and make an official Complaint (porter plainte). Before setting off I took the precaution of writing down in French a summary of events with their dates in order to facilitate the explanation. This did prove useful as the Gendarme was able to use that when completing the Complaint Form. The visit to the Gendarmerie was not at all intimidating. The young Gendarme was helpful and sympathetic and patient with our foreign accents.
Next we took a copy of the Complaint to the Bank together with a Lettre de Contestation. This, the Bank explained, was a simple letter from us giving details of the payments which we contested. It would be sent to Head Office who would consider its contents and the copy Complaint and, if our claim was accepted, reimburse us. The cancelled card was also given in to the Bank. We were told to check our Account after about 10 days and if nothing had happened to return to the Branch so that they could chase the repayments. In fact this was not necessary as the Bank had reimbursed us in full within a few days.
So how could this have happened? Our cards are never out of our sight. The only thing we recalled is that a young assistant did disappear for about a minute with the card when we were in a shop making a purchase. This happened so quickly that we hardly noticed at the time and only remembered after my husband had a sleepless night thinking back over the days leading up to the theft. I hope that no other Members find themselves in this situation but, provided you act promptly, the situation is redeemable just as it would be in the UK.
Steph McLean of the Anglo American Group of Provence