Online Fraud a New Banking Virus?

By: Antony Heywood

The advent of the internet has resulted in a whole new set of fraud related problems for the banking industry. In the past the issues resolved around, cash machines, credit cards and bounced cheques. The result, the cheque clearing process became longer. The new 2-4-6 cheque clearing rules reflect the fact that the problem with banking fraud has switched from cheques to online.

The banks in the UK have quietly passed an amendment to the online banking code that could result in less protection for their online customers. The subtle change is the incorporation of a new clause 12.13. This clause states that “Unless you have acted fraudulently or without reasonable care (for example, by not following the advice of 12.9), you will not be liable for losses caused by someone else which takes place through your online banking service..” The escape clause for the bank is 12.9, the clause that states that you must “use up-to-date antivirus and spyware software and a personal firewall..”.

The issue revolves around what is up-to-date and even what is antivirus and spyware software. If your antivirus software is not updated ever moment then it is by its nature not up-to-date. If you only turn your PC on once a week or so then in terms of anti-virus software it would be very out dated. If you don’t own a PC but use one at work or in a cybercafé to carry out your online banking you have no control over the anti-virus software, would you still be liable for any losses from your account.

The clause is very ambiguous as the term antivirus and spyware software is very wide. It encompass a wide range of software from free downloads to the more expensive monthly subscription services. The reality is that most of this type of software struggles to keep up with the developments in online fraud. The fraudster’s test their new virus and spying tools against current software to ensure that they can gain access to the data that they require to carry out the fraud.

Are the banks simply admitting defeat and shifting the burden from their own systems to that of the consumer? You can still get home insurance without security guards at your front door but it seems as if the banks don’t want to play by the same rules. Surely it should be down to the bank to ensure that it has in place systems that maintain security. The advent of third party security keys has been an attempt to address this issue. The banking industry have managed to shift the emphasis for security onto the consumer and potential the losses as well. Tony Heywood © bounced cheques cheque clearing

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