Banks attempt to avoid providing overseas credit protection

25 April 2003
Consumers are warned that two UK banks are preparing to question in court the Office of Fair Trading's (OFT) interpretation of consumer protection laws governing the use of credit cards overseas.

Unlike the OFT, Lloyds TSB and another unnamed bank believe that transactions made outside the UK should not be covered by the same protection rules that allow consumers to recover the costs involved in fraudulent or faulty purchases at home.

In particular Lloyds is worried about the prospect of secondary litigation and personal injury claims, that could arise for example when a holidaymaker hires a car with their credit card while on holiday and is involved in an accident; Lloyd's insists it is not an insurer and is seeking a High Court ruling on the issue.

However, the claims have been dismissed by consumer groups, which argue that bank's can afford to offer such protection, and that current regulation legislates for the costs to be shared with retailers anyway.

Under current legislation, banks are jointly liable for credit card purchases. So if a television is not delivered a travel company goes bust, customers can claim a refund from the card issuer.

'The banks don't have to bear these losses alone. The consumer credit act sets out very clearly that it is equal liability so that providers of these goods and services are also liable,' Frances Harrison from the National Consumer Council told BBC Radio Four's 'You and Yours' programme yesterday.

The future of the rules protecting transactions in the UK is under threat however, as a draft European consumer credit directive, without protection measures, is scheduled to supersede them.