What is a card security product?
A card security product is an optional product that provides assistance and cover for you, your debit and credit cards, store cards, membership cards and your belongings should they be lost or stolen.
Sentinel and Sentinel Gold are examples of card security products.
The typical features of a card security product include:
- Being able to cancel all your lost or stolen debit, credit cards and request replacements in one phone call
- Insurance cover to replace a lost or stolen handbag, purse, wallet and briefcase
- An emergency cash advance service if cards are lost or stolen
- Insurance cover to replace personal cash lost or stolen at the same time as a card is lost or stolen
- Insurance cover for the telephone and communication costs of dealing with the loss of your card and personal possessions including identity documents e.g. passports
- Insurance cover for replacement of lost or stolen car or home keys and replacement of locks for your home
- Insurance cover for fraudulent use of lost or stolen cards (now removed from all products)
What has happened?
Affinion International (AI) and the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) announced on 27 January 2015 a proposed Scheme of Arrangement. The Scheme would be a court-approved process and an agreement to review whether customers are entitled to compensation in connection with their card security product because of one of its features, the fraud insurance cover.
Card security policies from AI were, within HSBC, only sold to bank customers under the HFC brand and were called Sentinel or Sentinel Gold. HFC Bank was acquired by HSBC as part of the bank's purchase of the US lender Household International (of which HFC was a banking brand in the UK) in 2003.
AI Scheme Ltd sent letters to customers from 27 January 2015 onwards containing further information on the proposed Scheme of Arrangement. About 52,000 HSBC customers will receive a Scheme letter. They will either be in one of the following two categories:
- Customers who only paid premiums after 14 January 2005. These customers will be contacted by a letter from AI Scheme Ltd; or
- Customers who paid premiums before and after 14 January 2005. These customers will also be contacted by a letter from AI Scheme Ltd.
Customers who only paid premiums before 14 January 2005 will not be contacted by AI Scheme Ltd or HSBC as part of the Scheme. For these customers, we have a dedicated team to help deal with any complaints or queries. They can be contacted on 0345 600 6539 (between 9 am and 4 pm Monday-Friday).
Do I need to take any action?
If you have any questions relating to your card security product and the proposed Scheme of Arrangement, please wait to hear from AI Scheme Ltd. The initial letter should have been received by 28 February 2015, otherwise please contact AI Scheme Ltd on 0800 678 1930 (between 8am - 8pm Monday-Friday, and 8am - 6pm Saturday). Any complaints regarding the way the card security products was sold to customers who have paid premiums since 14 January 2005 will be placed on hold until the scheme is set up.
If you have any other concerns then please call us on 0345 600 6539 or write to us at:
Central Complaints Department
Please provide full details of your concerns. Please also inform us of any cards you registered with the service in the past, claims made on the policy and any use of the 'one call' service to notify card companies where your cards were lost/stolen. If we have insufficient information we may send you a questionnaire. This questionnaire should ensure we have all the additional information we need to understand your complaint and respond quickly, however it is not mandatory for it to be completed.
Claims Management Companies
If you feel you need to make a complaint, we would like to stress that there is no need to use a claims management company. While you are of course free to do so, the claims management companies (CMC) usually take a fee or percentage of any compensation you are paid.
If you contact us directly we will assess your complaint in exactly the same way that we treat complaints sent in by a CMC and you won't have to pay them a fee or any percentage if we do end up compensating you.
For independent guidance on how CMCs work visit the Which? website.
How long will I have to wait before I receive a response?
Clearly, we always want to be able to resolve any concerns you raise with us. Any concerns regarding the way the card security product was sold to customers who paid premiums since 14 January 2005 will be placed on hold until the scheme is set up.
However, for any other complaint we expect to resolve this within eight weeks. In any event, we will be in touch within eight weeks to update you on our investigation. If you have not received a reply from us within eight weeks of raising your complaint, you have the right to refer your case to the Financial Ombudsman.
The Financial Conduct Authority has published details with regard to the handling of complaints relating to AI which are available at www.fca.org.uk.
If you have already made a complaint, there's no need to do anything further. We will review it as soon as possible and then write to you confirming the outcome of our investigation.