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; request a free guide on NISAs from Hargreaves Lansdown

PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
tech

Company reveals $542m investment in start-up building 'a rocket ship for the mind'

News
Bourgogne wine maker Laboure-Roi vice president Thibault Garin (L) offers the company's 2013 Beaujolais Nouveau wine to the guest in the wine spa at the Hakone Yunessun spa resort facilities in Hakone town, Kanagawa prefecture, some 100-kilometre west of Tokyo
i100
Arts and Entertainment
James Blunt's debut album Back to Bedlam shot him to fame in 2004
music

Singer says the track was 'force-fed down people's throats'

Sport
CSKA Moscow celebrate after equalising with a late penalty
football

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

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

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Money & Business

    Helpdesk Analyst

    £23000 per annum + pension and 22 days holiday: Ashdown Group: An established ...

    Senior Helpdesk Analyst / Service Desk Co-ordinator

    £27000 per annum + pension, 22 days holiday: Ashdown Group: An established ind...

    Senior Pensions Administrator

    £23000 - £26000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is curr...

    Corporate Actions Administrator / Operations Administrator

    £25 - 30k: Guru Careers: A Corporate Actions Administrator / Operations Admini...

    Day In a Page

    Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

    Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

    Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
    British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

    British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

    Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
    Let's talk about loss

    We need to talk about loss

    Secrecy and silence surround stillbirth
    Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

    Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

    Women may be better suited to space travel than men are
    Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

    'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

    If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
    James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

    The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

    Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
    Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

    Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

    Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
    Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

    Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

    Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
    How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

    How to dress with authority

    Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
    New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

    New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

    'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
    Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

    Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

    The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
    Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

    Tim Minchin interview

    For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
    Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

    Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

    Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
    Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

    Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

    Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album