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Office of Competition and Consumer Protection

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Unauthorised transactions in questions and answers

< previous | next > 22.11.2022

Unauthorised transactions in questions and answers
  • What should I do if money has been stolen from my account? How not to fall into the trap set by fraudsters? What are the obligations of payment providers, e.g. banks, in the event of funds being stolen?
  • The President of the Office of Competition and Consumer Protection, together with the Financial Ombudsman, prepared answers to the most frequently asked questions regarding unauthorised transactions.
  • Visit finanse.uokik.gov.pl and check how not to be manipulated by fraudsters and what your rights are in the event of a fraudulent transaction against your will.

The Office of Competition and Consumer Protection has been receiving numerous complaints from consumers about the so-called unauthorised transactions, namely those made without the consent of the account or payment card owner. This can be, for example, a fraudster transferring funds to another account – often a foreign one, or a BLIK payment.

“Together with the Financial Ombudsman, we can see that unauthorised transactions are a huge social problem. Fraudsters are reaching for more and more sophisticated methods of manipulation and phishing of access data to accounts. Unfortunately, banks fail to fulfil their statutory obligations and mislead consumers. Consumers are still lacking adequate knowledge on how to defend themselves against fraudsters’ traps, as well as what rights they have in the event of an unauthorised transaction. Hence the idea for a joint educational campaign” – says Tomasz Chróstny, President of the Office of Competition and Consumer Protection.

“Banks are under an obligation to ensure maximum security of funds and transactions collected by their customers, limited solely by the right to customer privacy. Carrying over customers the consequences of breaking the security of the banking system by criminals contradicts the assumptions underlying it. When making a transaction, the customer has a reasonable belief that their bank will provide them with a high standard of protection. The PSD2 directive clearly states that this standard involves the situation where the bank should automatically return the lost funds to the customer’s account in the event that it does not find any attempts to extort funds” – says Bohdan Pretkiel, PhD, Financial Ombudsman.

Cooperation between the two institutions has resulted in answers to the most frequently asked questions concerning unauthorised transactions. We explain, including but not limited to, what sorts of consumer behaviour can be risky and result in money loss, what to do when an unwanted transaction has already been made, and what obligations payment service providers (e.g. banks) have if such situations occur. We also clarify the important terms of “authorisation” and “authentication” as well as intricate legal regulations. We encourage you to read!

Examples of trap-situations

  • A phone call from a “bank employee”. The fraudster may impersonate your bank’s hotline number (so-called spoofing). Most often it is the case where they try to make you anxious by talking about attempts to steal funds from your account. They ask you to install software on your phone or computer to scan your device for malware and block the transaction. The fact is that this software renders it possible for them to track your activity and thus obtain your banking login and password.
  • Text messages pretending to be from companies supplying electricity, gas or parcels. Fraudsters inform in them about the alleged arrears in payments and send a link to make the payment. Clicking that link redirects to a fake, lookalike page of the payment intermediary. This is how scammers will get your authentication data.
  • Sales via online platforms. A scammer can pretend to be someone interested in buying. On the messenger, they send a link to “collect funds”. Clicking on it redirects to a fake website, confusingly reminiscent of payment intermediaries or banks. Be careful because if you enter your authentication data there (e.g. payment card details), you will provide them to the scammer.

To avoid losing money from your account, it is worth remembering 4 basic rules:

  1. Under no circumstances should you give or send your online banking or mobile app login and password to anyone. A real bank employee will not ask you that.
  2. Under no circumstances should you click on links sent via SMS. Confirm the possible existence of arrears yourself by contacting, for example, the gas supplier or courier company.
  3. In the case of a call from a person introducing themselves as a bank employee, you should hang up, find the hotline number yourself, and confirm whether someone has actually called you.
  4. Under no circumstances should you install software from links sent to you or during a telephone conversation regarding your account or funds accumulated on it.

What if fraudsters have managed to gain access, for example, to your payment account or payment card details? You should inform your payment service provider as soon as possible, cancel your card, and change your login details or block your payment account. Following this approach will make you prevent fraudsters from stealing funds or, if it has already happened – you will prevent further transactions. Furthermore, you should also report the incident to the police as soon as possible and inform your payment service provider.

Obligations of payment service providers

The payment service provider is held accountable for ensuring that transactions take place with the consent and knowledge of the owner of the payment instrument (e.g. account or card). Moreover, banks are obliged to protect the funds in the account. Accordingly, the payment service provider is obliged to reimburse the amount of the unauthorised transaction to the consumer no later than by the end of the next business day (the so-called D+1 deadline) after discovering that it was not authorised. There are only two exceptions to this obligation:

  • the payment service provider has a reasonable suspicion that the consumer, by reporting and demanding reimbursement for the transaction amount they have authorised, is trying to commit fraud, and notifies law enforcement authorities of this fact,
  • the unauthorised transaction was reported after 13 months from the date of debiting the payment account.

Nevertheless, according to the regulations, the payment service provider cannot refuse to make reimbursement in other situations. If it proves, however, that the fraudsters have gained access to the account as a result of the consumer’s gross negligence, the payment service provider (e.g. bank) may request the payer (consumer) to reimburse the amount of the unauthorised transaction paid to them beforehand. If the payer (consumer) refuses to do so, the bank may pursue its claims, including in court. A detailed interpretation of the provisions on unauthorised transactions was presented by the President of the Office of Competition and Consumer Protection in the position published at finanse.uokik.gov.pl.

Activities of the Office of Competition and Consumer Protection and the Financial Ombudsman

Since July 2021, the President of the Office has been conducting explanatory proceedings in which he checks how banks behave towards consumers who have reported unauthorised transactions. The evidence collected thus far has given rise to accusations against 5 financial institutions of violating collective consumer interests. “The allegations concern the failure to reimburse the amounts of unauthorised transactions to consumers within the statutory period, as well as misleading them in their responses to complaints. We do not rule out bringing charges against other banks” – says Tomasz Chróstny, President of the Office of Competition and Consumer Protection.

In individual disputes with banks, consumers can count on the support of the Financial Ombudsman. “Undoubtedly, the customer should not be a party who, in the event of losing funds, is doubly disadvantaged: firstly, when an unauthorised transaction has been made to their detriment and they have the funds, and secondly, when the bank refuses to reimburse the funds in the so-called D+1” – says Bohdan Pretkiel, PhD, Financial Ombudsman.

If the bank did not accept your complaint, you should submit an application to the Financial Ombudsman to consider the case. The Ombudsman is also competent to help you in a situation where the dispute is already at the stage of court proceedings. In September 2020, the Financial Ombudsman filed the first lawsuit on behalf of a customer in a case where the bank refused to reimburse money stolen from an account as a result of an unauthorised payment transaction, and in October 2020 filed the first extraordinary complaint to the Supreme Court in such a case.

Consumer Support:

Phone: 801 440 220 or 222 66 76 76 – consumer helpline
Email: [SCODE]cG9yYWR5QGRsYWtvbnN1bWVudG93LnBs[ECODE]
Consumer advocates – in your town or district
Financial Ombudsman – when a complaint has been rejected by a financial institution

Additional information for the media:

UOKiK Press Office
pl. Powstańców Warszawy 1, 00-950 Warszawa, Poland
Phone: 22 55 60 246
Email: [SCODE]Yml1cm9wcmFzb3dlQHVva2lrLmdvdi5wbA==[ECODE]
Twitter: @UOKiKgovPL
You can also follow us on Instagram: @uokikgovpl

Attached files

 

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