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July 15, 2012

Who pays when your bank account is hacked?

NORMAN — Have you ever actually read the agreement you have with your bank, or did you simply “sign on the line,” ignoring the pesky details about who’s required to do what?

After all, who can understand all that ridiculous legalese, anyway? Who’s got time for such hassles?

Some local businesses are discovering the hard way they need to make time for such hassles after having their online bank accounts drained by Internet crooks. After losing many thousands of dollars, they are learning the agreements they signed do not obligate their banks to cover their losses. These victims may just have to kiss that stolen money goodbye forever.

A little-known fact about Internet banking is that different rules apply individual, personal accounts as opposed to business accounts. Banks are required to make good some types of losses from personal accounts. While banks are required to provide “commercially reasonable” online security measures, federal regulations regarding reimbursement to personal accounts do not apply to business accounts.

Most online banking agreements for personal accounts encourage individuals to practice good computer security, such as the following:

“You are responsible for keeping your password, account numbers, personal identification information and other account information confidential. You are also responsible for using a compatible web browser that has a high security standard. The Bank is not responsible for customer errors or negligent use of Online Banking and will not be liable for losses due to negligent handling or sharing of passwords or leaving your computer unattended during access. The Bank will not be liable if you, or anyone you allow, commits any fraud or violates any law or regulation, or if you have not properly followed the instructions using Online Banking.”

Even with that stern language, losses from personal accounts are limited, and most agreements continue with the following:

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