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12 French banks taken to court for not reimbursing fraud victims

Consumer group accuses banks of too often placing the blame on clients over frauds when they are not at fault

UFC-Que Choisir is taking 12 banks to court, having accused them of refusing to reimburse the victims of fraud Pic: fizkes / Shutterstock

Twelve banks are being taken to court by a French consumer group which is accusing them of failing to reimburse people who have money stolen from their account through no fault of their own. 

UFC-Que Choisir has stated that it has detected 4,300 instances when payment was refused since 2019 and so has launched legal action for “misleading commercial practices”.

The banks included in the case are: La Banque Postale, Crédit Agricole, Banque Populaire, BNP Paribas, Société Générale, CIC, LCL, Boursorama, ING, Nickel, Cetelem and Floa Bank.

“The law says that a consumer who is the victim of fraud must be reimbursed immediately. And when [the account holder] has been negligent, the bank must prove this if it is to avoid reimbursing them,” UFC-Que Choisir said.

“Unfortunately, too often this is not the case,” and banks either automatically place the blame on account holders or claim that their insurance will not allow for reimbursement, the consumer group states.

UFC-Que Choisir adds that France’s Autorité de contrôle prudentiel et de résolution (ACPR) customer protection body already called for banks to improve their reimbursement practices last year, but in vain. 

Group asks for tighter checks on banks

The consumer group is therefore asking the ACPR and the government to tighten checks on banks to guarantee that the victims of fraud get their money back.

UFC-Que Choisir has said that the worst banks for failing to replace stolen funds are La Banque Postale (22% of cases) and Crédit Agricole (20% of cases), and that 60% of reimbursement refusals concern sums of more than €4,000.

The banks targeted by the action have stated that “85% of requests with regards to irregular card payments receive reimbursement.” 

These institutions suggest that it is negligence on the part of the customer which results in repayment refusals. 

When can clients be judged to have been negligent?

In the case of bank fraud, the account holder must have taken “all reasonable steps” to protect their data. They may be judged to have been negligent if they communicated their details to a scammer as a result of a fake bank email which was clearly suspicious, with spelling errors, a strange sender address or with dubious links, for instance. 

However, if the correspondence received by the victim gave no real indication that it was fraudulent, they will likely be seen to have taken the necessary steps to protect themselves. 

For example, scammers often usurp a real bank telephone number to act as customer service agents and illegally obtain customer account details. The use of this legitimate number makes fraud harder to spot than when it comes in the form of messages from a suspicious email or a personal number.

How much is bank fraud costing customers and the state?

Banque de France figures suggest that bank frauds cost customers and banks a total of €1.2billion in 2021, and are affecting a growing number of victims. Some 1.3 million households were impacted by such frauds in 2020, 161% more than in 2010.

UFC-Que Choisir has created a document (in French) offering advice to consumers who believe that they have been scammed, as well as two example letters (here and here) which you can send to your bank to request reimbursement.

The organisation is also encouraging the victims of fraud to report incidents which have since been refused reimbursement to fraudebancaire@quechoisir.org.

In order to avoid falling victim to fraud and being judged to have been negligent by the bank, you should remember that banks will never ask you for your full account details by email or phone. 

If you have been the victim of a bank fraud in France, tell us about it and what happened at news@connexionfrance.com

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