Make a criminal's day: leave your card behind the bar

Part with your plastic next time you run up a tab in a pub or restaurant, and you could be held liable if it falls into the wrong hands. Sue Hayward investigates

We've probably all done it – gone to the pub for a leisurely Sunday lunch or had a few drinks after work and happily handed over our credit card to run a "tab". But while it saves dipping into your pocket every time you go to the bar, if your card is lost or used fraudulently, you could in theory be held responsible.

CNP (cardholder not present) fraud has soared over the past few years. The most recent figures, for the first half of last year, show scams of this sort up 44 per cent compared with the same period in 2006.

Sandra Quinn from the Association for Payment Clearing Services says: "CNP fraud is the biggest single type of fraud we have and it's no great secret that we're expecting the figures to be even higher this year."

These statistics can't be attributed solely to fraudulent activity taking place while credit cards are out of sight behind a bar. However, handing over your card to run up a tab is "definitely a security risk", says Tim Pie at HSBC. "We'd recommend our customers ask why it's necessary for the pub or restaurant to take the actual card, as letting it out of your sight can in some circumstances lead to it being skimmed."

The widespread practice of skimming, the illegal copying of card details and pin numbers electronically, is made easier for criminals when the card is out of the owner's possession for a long time.

Ms Quinn points to the terms of the Banking Code, which state that customers have a responsibility to take "reasonable care" of a card, but says there are no ground rules and that "it would depend on your relationship with your card company as to how they would handle the situation".

Barclaycard has more than nine million credit cards in circulation in the UK, and it too places ultimate responsibility with the customer.

"Cardholders should never let their card out of their sight, and this includes handing them over to run tabs in bars and restaurants," says Barclaycard's Sarah Conyers.

Other banks and card providers, including the Halifax, Sainsbury's and Egg, strongly advise customers against this practice.

Chris Holloway is a founder of CardsSafe, a company that has produced a lockable unit for customers' cards, for use in pubs and restaurants. He says: "When you think that the average number of cards behind the bar could run to 20 or 30 on a busy weekend night, with some pubs sticking cards in glass jars behind the counter, on shelves and even on clipboards, you can see how easily card fraud can occur."

But whatever security measures are in place, if there is a corrupt member of staff at your local, you could become a victim of fraud. Don't think, either, that you can necessarily rely on insurance products such as a cardholder protection policy to fund any losses that arise. As Malcolm Tarling from the Association of British Insurers says: "The general principle under any insurance is that you've got to take reasonable care." He admits, though, that the waters are muddied, since there is no clear definition of "reasonable care".

Ultimately, the advice from banks and credit card companies is to hang on to your plastic at all times. Bear in mind, too, that the new methods being employed by pubs and restaurants to improve credit card security aren't just about giving customers peace of mind; they're also designed to put more money in the till. We spend an average of 30 to 50 per cent more by setting up a tab than if we had kept hold of our cards and paid the bill in cash.

Independent Partners; Do you need financial advice on your investments, pension or insurance? Book a free consultation with an independent Financial Adviser at VouchedFor.co.uk

Finacial products from our partners
Property search
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Money & Business

    Recruitment Genius: Collections Agent

    £14000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company was established in...

    SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

    £20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE 40k: SThree: SThree are a global FTSE 250 busi...

    SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

    £20000 - £25000 per annum + competitive: SThree: SThree are a global FTSE 250 ...

    Reach Volunteering: Trustees with Finance, Fundraising and IT skills

    Voluntary and unpaid, reasonable expenses reimbursable: Reach Volunteering: St...

    Day In a Page

    Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

    How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

    Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
    10 best PS4 games

    10 best PS4 games

    Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
    Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

    ‘Can we really just turn away?’

    Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
    Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

    Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

    ... and not just because of Isis vandalism
    Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

    Girl on a Plane

    An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
    Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

    Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

    The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent
    Markus Persson: If being that rich is so bad, why not just give it all away?

    That's a bit rich

    The billionaire inventor of computer game Minecraft says he is bored, lonely and isolated by his vast wealth. If it’s that bad, says Simon Kelner, why not just give it all away?
    Euro 2016: Chris Coleman on course to end half a century of hurt for Wales

    Coleman on course to end half a century of hurt for Wales

    Wales last qualified for major tournament in 1958 but after several near misses the current crop can book place at Euro 2016 and end all the indifference
    Rugby World Cup 2015: The tournament's forgotten XV

    Forgotten XV of the rugby World Cup

    Now the squads are out, Chris Hewett picks a side of stars who missed the cut
    A groundbreaking study of 'Britain's Atlantis' long buried at the bottom of the North Sea could revolutionise how we see our prehistoric past

    Britain's Atlantis

    Scientific study beneath North Sea could revolutionise how we see the past
    The Queen has 'done and said nothing that anybody will remember,' says Starkey

    The Queen has 'done and said nothing that anybody will remember'

    David Starkey's assessment
    Oliver Sacks said his life has been 'an enormous privilege and adventure'

    'An enormous privilege and adventure'

    Oliver Sacks writing about his life
    'Gibraltar is British, and it is going to stay British forever'

    'Gibraltar is British, and it is going to stay British forever'

    The Rock's Chief Minister hits back at Spanish government's 'lies'
    Britain is still addicted to 'dirty coal'

    Britain still addicted to 'dirty' coal

    Biggest energy suppliers are more dependent on fossil fuel than a decade ago
    Orthorexia nervosa: How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition

    Orthorexia nervosa

    How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition