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October 25, 2020

Husband cannot use Wife’s ATM card – SBI

by CA Shivam Jaiswal in RBI

Husband cannot use Wife’s ATM card – SBI

The ATM is often seen as a distinct area of banking services, one that rarely changes and operates separately from the rest of banking functions like mobile or online. It because of the importance of ATM to the society that we have it at around our neighbourhood or community. Thanks to modern banking and technology, we have the automated teller machine to ease out the stress of cash withdrawal.

It is true that banks do warn debit card holders not to share details of PIN with anyone, but most card holders assume that this refers to giving the number to a third party – but between husband and wife? A little random sampling of card holding couples showed that a majority of them do not think sharing PIN details between spouses amounts to infringement of the rule about “not sharing with anyone”

A casual act of letting your spouse or a close relative/friend withdraw money from an ATM using your debit card could prove costly. This is what a Benglauru woman on maternity leave learnt, the hard way as according to banks, an ATM card is non-transferable and no other person apart from the account holder should use it.

What happened?

On November 14, 2013, Vandana gave her debit card with the PIN to her husband to withdraw Rs 25,000 from a local SBI ATM.  Her husband, Rajesh Kumar, claimed that the machine delivered a confirmation slip showing the money was debited, but the amount was never dispensed.

Immediately after the ‘failed’ transaction, Rajesh Kumar called the SBI customer care which said that it was an ATM fault and the money would be reverted to the account within 24 hours. After no return, he filed a complaint with the SBI’s Helicopter Division branch at HAL with a formal complaint.

After following up with SBI, the bank denied all money claims stating that the rule ‘ATM card is non-transferable and should not be used by anybody other than the account holder’ and since the husband had used the debit card on the account holder’s behalf it could not accept any claim request.

When the couple approached the bank with the CCTV footage of the ATM cabin showing no cash being dispensed, a probe committee ruled that the cardholder was not seen in the footage.

Use of RTI by the cardholder

Using the Right to Information (RTI) Act, Vandana obtained the cash verification report of the day the transaction had taken place, which clearly showed an excess of Rs. 25,000. However, SBI produced a counter report showing no excess cash was found.

Before approaching the consumer forum, the couple made a final plea to the bank ombudsman who ruled against them saying ‘PIN shared, case closed.’

What were the proceeding of the Court?

Vandana had approached the Bangalore IVth Additional District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum on October 21, 2014, claiming a refund of the money lost in the transaction. She further stated that she had just delivered a baby, hence could not leave home and had requested her husband to withdraw on her behalf. 

In the court, SBI held that while that the customer violated rules by sharing ATM PIN, the stated ATM transaction was successful and Kumar received the cash. 

After a legal battle of three-and-a-half years, the consumer court ruled on May 29, 2018 that Vandana should not have shared the PIN bit should have given a self-cheque or an authorisation letter to her husband for withdrawal of money.

The Bangalore IVth Additional District Consumer Disputes Forum agreed with the State Bank of India’s rule that a husband or wife cannot use the spouse’s debit card for any transactions.

The RBI has also issued certain guidelines to help customer keep his / her ATM / WLA transaction secure:

Customers should observe the following Do’s and Don’ts to keep their transactions at ATMs / WLAs safe and secure:

  • Customer should conduct the ATM / WLA transaction in complete privacy.
  • Only one card holder should enter and access the ATM / WLA kiosk at a time.
  • The card holder should not lend his / her card to anyone.
  • The card holder should not write the PIN on the card.
  • The card holder should not share the PIN with anyone.
  • The card holder should not let anyone see the PIN while it is being entered at the ATM.
  • The card holder should never use a PIN that could be easily guessed.
  • The card holder should never leave the card in the ATM / WLA.
  • The card holder should register his / her mobile number with the card issuing bank for getting alerts for transactions at ATMs / WLAs. Any unauthorized card transaction in the account, if observed, should be immediately reported to the card issuing bank.
  • The card holder should be vigilant and check if any extra device/s is / are attached to the ATMs / WLAs. The device/s may be put in place to capture customer data fraudulently; if found, the security guard / bank / WLA entity should be informed immediately.
  • The card holder should keep an eye on suspicious movement/s of people around the ATMs / WLAs. He / She should be careful of strangers trying to engaging him / her in conversation or offering assistance / help in operating the ATM.
  • The card holder should remember that bank officials never ask for card details or PIN over telephone / email. So, he / she should not respond to any such communication from anyone indicating that they represent his / her bank.

So, if you have the habit of getting someone withdraw money for you using your ATM card, be warned. If something goes wrong during the transaction, you will lose the money and the bank will not be responsible for it. The sole reason being the fact that you have shared the PIN, which is non-transferable, and hence violated the norms the bank had set for card users as no person other than the account holder should use it.

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