By this time you must have heard the story of that Bengaluru-based woman who, while she was pregnant and was on maternity leave a few years ago, had given her debit card to her husband to withdraw Rs 25,000 from her SBI account. However, when her husband tried to withdraw the amount, the cash was not disbursed, but the slip got printed duly debiting the said amount from her SBI account. The couple filed a complaint, which got rejected by the bank, saying that sharing her ATM password with her husband was against the rules. Then they moved court. The Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum, Bengaluru, however, also held that since the Complainant (holder) of ATM/ Debit Card had shared the PIN with her husband, “it tantamounts to breach of condition under which the ATM/Debit cards are issued by SBI, and hence SBI is not liable to compensate holder of the card towards any loss incurred by the holder.” The Forum then dismissed the complaint filed by the couple.
Commenting on the case, legal experts say that there are many things which the Forum failed to examine, and – without going into the merits of the case – the Banking Ombudsman as well as the Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum proceeded on the basis that on account of violation of the condition, the complainant was not entitled to any relief.
ATM Card rules
However, legal experts also agree that as per the ATM card rules, the PIN/ Card should not be shared with any one. “The Card should remain in (the) Card Holder’s possession and should not be handed over to anyone else. The Card is issued on the condition that the Bank bears no liability for the unauthorised use of the Card. This responsibility is fully that of the Card Holder,” the rules say.
Views of Experts and Solution
Thus, ATM cards should not be used by anyone else (other than in case of card issued in name of the minor as parents/ guardian who has signed the application form will be entitled to use the card), including the family member, “as it is difficult to prove whether the usage of the card by the family member was authorized or not,” says Sandeep Shah, Partner, N.A Shah Associates LLP.
So, in the above case, if the woman was unable to go anywhere, one option was to give a cheque to her husband to withdraw the money from her account.
“Banking rules are very clear that ATM cards are issued specifically to one person and should not be shared. So, do not request your spouse, parent, or friend to withdraw cash on your behalf. In case you are unable to make the withdrawal yourself, issue a self-cheque along with an authorization letter to withdraw cash from the branch,” suggests Adhil Shetty, CEO, Bankbazaar.com.
Another way out is that “the card holders should always ask for additional card in the name of the spouse or anyone else whom they trust as this will enable the usage of the card in case of emergency. The mobile number for SMS notification should be that of the primary card holder so that he or she knows that the card has been used by the additional card holder,” advises Shah.
To avoid such complications, you can also switch to a joint account with your spouse or parent so that they have a card to access the account and withdraw cash on your behalf when you cannot do it yourself. However, both the account holders must have independent cards so that sharing of card/ PIN condition is not violated. Otherwise also, “in case the spouse is a joint holder, as per the FAQ issued by SBI, since there is no requirement to have a separate PIN, use of the card by the joint holder will not tantamount to unauthorized usage if the PIN is used,” informs Shah.
In case the spouse is not a joint holder and does not have an independent debit card, the next best thing is (a) to transfer the money online from your bank account to your spouse’s bank account and then the spouse withdraws the money using his/her own card, (b) transfer money to Payment Wallet of the spouse (many banks and service providers are offering the service subject to service charges) and then payments could be made using the wallet. However, this option will not work if cash has to be withdrawn.