Your payment card was used without your permission – distance sales

This advice applies to England. See advice for See advice for Northern Ireland, See advice for Scotland, See advice for Wales

A distance sale is when you buy something without face-to-face contact. For example shopping by internet, television, mail order, phone or fax.

This page tells you what you can do if your payment card has been used for a distance sale purchase without your permission.

Top tips

Do you know who used your card?

Is it possible that a family member used your card without your permission? In the world of card fraud, this can be quite common. If it was a family member who used your card, think carefully before you take any action with your bank. They may get the police involved.

Contact your bank immediately

If the unauthorised payment was taken from your bank account for a purchase over the internet, by telephone, TV or teletext, you may have a right to get your money back.

Usually, the bank will have a team of investigators who look into it for you. If you claim the use of the card was not authorised by you, it is for your bank to prove otherwise.

The bank may be able to cancel the payment or put the money back into your account.

If your card provider will not give you your money back, report them to Trading Standards.

Report a problem to Trading Standards.

When you can’t get your money back

There are certain distance sale contracts that are not covered by the law. You would not automatically have the right to your money back if the fraudulent purchase was made for the following:

  • financial services, for example, insurance and banking

  • sale of land or buildings except for certain rental agreements

  • sale of land plus construction of buildings (a contract to construct when the land is already owned by the consumer would be covered)

  • rental agreements of 3 years or more (one year or more in Scotland)

  • purchases from vending machines or automated commercial premises

  • the use of a telecommunications operator through a public payphone

  • auctions, including internet auctions, unless a ‘buy now’ option is chosen and you bought from a business trader

If your card has been used fraudulently for buying goods or services listed above, you should still contact your bank. They will probably investigate for you but you may not be able to get your money back.

If you have been a victim of fraud, you can contact Action Fraud, who offer advice, guidance and support for victims of fraud. You can contact them on telephone 0300 123 2040.

More about how to report a problem to Action Fraud website at:

More about fraudulent use of payment cards (non-distance sale purchases).

If you think you have been overcharged for goods or a service

Sometimes, you might already have a contract for goods or services with a company and they take more money from your card than you expected. Or they may take an additional payment you don’t think you agreed to. Contact the company to dispute the extra charges. If they don’t help you, contact your bank.

Next steps

If you need more help

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