The Margao-based Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum, South Goa, has ordered a bank to refund its customer, who had fallen victim to ATM skimming and lost Rs 70,000 in February this year.
The forum ordered the South Indian Bank to pay an amount of Rs 70,000 with interest at the rate of 4 per cent per annum from February 19, 2018 as well as Rs 10,000 as compensation after establishing that the money was fraudulently withdrawn by two foreigners.
A seaman had handed his ATM card of the South Indian Bank, Vasco branch, to his wife and disclosed the PIN to her. In February 6 this year, the wife withdrew an amount of Rs 10,000 from an ATM in Dabolim. But on the 17th of the same month, she had received a message that an amount of Rs 70,000 had been withdrawn from the bank account through a Canara Bank ATM in Porvorim.
The woman then complained about the transaction to the bank and lodged a complaint at the Vasco police station. In May, the complainant wrote a letter to his bank demanding a refund of the Rs 70,000 but the bank failed to do so, forcing the seaman to approach the consumer forum.
The bank, however, argued that the complainant had used the ATM card
against the terms and conditions of the issuance of the card by failing to keep it in a safe place and allowing a third party to use it.
In its reasoning, the forum noted that the bank had not denied that the money was fraudulently withdrawn by unknown persons. It later emerged that a foreigner had fitted a skimmer into the ATM where the money was fraudulently withdrawn.
“There was unauthorised/fraudulent withdrawal of money from the account of the complainant. Not refunding the amount of the said unauthorised withdrawal from the account of the customer will undisputedly amount to deficiency in service of the part of the opposite party (South Indian Bank),” said the forum.
It also noted that the money stolen was hard earned and that there was no doubt that incident caused anxiety and trauma.
“He and his wife had to run from pillar to post to recover the said amount. They had also complained to the police. The opposite party though had knowledge that some strangers had used a skimmer had stolen data from the ATM card and had withdrawn money fraudulently from the account of the complainant, they did not refund his money and illegally deprived him of his said amount. It is, therefore, fit and proper that the complainant is awarded some amount of compensation towards mental torture that he suffered for the period of about six-seven months. The mental torture and trauma that the complainant had suffered cannot be valued in terms of money. Some guesswork has to be done. In the circumstances of the case, in our opinion, an amount of Rs 10,000 can be said to be fair compensation to the complainant for his sufferings,” said the forum in its order that was passed by president Pradip Sawaikar and member Cynthia Colaco.