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

Arts and Entertainment
Supporting role: at the Supreme Court, Rhodes was accompanied by a famous friend, the actor Benedict Cumberbatch
booksPianist James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to stop the injunction of his memoirs
Arts and Entertainment
Jesuthasan Antonythasan as Dheepan
filmDheepan, film review
Steven Gerrard scores for Liverpool
peopleComedian star of Ed Sullivan Show was mother to Ben Stiller
Finacial products from our partners
Property search
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Money & Business

    Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

    £40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

    Neil Pavier: Management Accountant

    £45,000 - £55,000: Neil Pavier: Are you looking for your next opportunity for ...

    Sheridan Maine: Commercial Accountant

    £45,000 - £55,000: Sheridan Maine: Are you a newly qualified ACA/ACCA/ACMA qua...

    Laura Norton: Project Accountant

    £50,000 - £60,000: Laura Norton: Are you looking for an opportunity within a w...

    Day In a Page

    Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

    Sun, sex and an anthropological study

    One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
    From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

    Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

    'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
    'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

    Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

    This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
    Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

    Songs from the bell jar

    Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
    How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

    One man's day in high heels

    ...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
    Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

    Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

    Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
    The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

    King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

    The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
    More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

    End of the Aussie brain drain

    More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
    Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

    Can meditation be bad for you?

    Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
    Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

    Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

    Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
    Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

    Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

    Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
    Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

    Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

    Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
    Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

    Join the tequila gold rush

    The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
    12 best statement wallpapers

    12 best statement wallpapers

    Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
    Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

    Paul Scholes column

    Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?