• Germany edition
 
Phishing victims' losses are own fault - court
Photo: DPA

Phishing victims' losses are own fault - court

Published: 25 Apr 2012 12:19 GMT+02:00
Updated: 25 Apr 2012 12:19 GMT+02:00

The landmark judgement by the Federal Court of Justice is the first time that Germany’s supreme court has ruled on the question of whether banks or their clients are responsible for online-banking abuse.

It follows a case brought by a pensioner who lost €5,000 from his Sparda Bank account to a Greek account in a transaction he claimed he had not executed himself.

According to the Süddeutsche Zeitung, the transfer occurred three months after he entered ten transaction numbers, or TAN codes, on what turned out to be an illegally manipulated version of his bank’s website. This common internet scam is known as "phishing."

Tuesday’s judgement absolved the bank of any liability for the incident, as it had expressly warned customers of such practices on its website. Instead the judges ruled that the plaintiff’s lack of care in entering his TAN codes amounted to negligence.

TAN codes are sequences of numbers that customers must enter to make online transactions.

The plaintiff argued that the bank had a duty to protect its customers from the abuse of these codes. But the federal court upheld previous judgements by the district and state courts, agreeing with the bank’s argument that the customer should bear responsibility for falling for the con.

The bank said it was widely known that being asked to input several TAN codes was a telltale sign of phishing, and pointed out that a phishing warning appeared on its login page.

The plaintiff had also agreed to keep his TAN codes safe when he signed up to the bank’s online service. The bank argued that as the correct TAN codes were entered, the customer could only have entered them himself or failed to keep them secure.

German authorities were not able to track down the holder of the Greek account, despite enlisting their Greek counterparts.

Sparda Bank is one the few remaining German banks to use the iTAN procedure, and the method is commonly thought to be susceptible to phishing. But a bank spokesman told the Süddeutsche Zeitung, “As far as the court was concerned, the security of the procedure is not in question.”

Most banks favour other procedures that are thought to reduce the chances of fraud, like Mobile-TAN, where the customer receives new codes by text message, or Chip-TAN, where codes are generated by a special machine that the customer keeps at home.

In 2010, the Federal Criminal Police Office of Germany received 5,300 reports of phishing – a rise of 82 percent on the previous year. Last year’s figures are not yet available.

As many as 44 percent of German bank customers do at least some of their banking online, a survey last year found. That amounts to 27 million account holders, according to the Federal Association of German Banks.

The Local/jpg

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Don't miss...X
Left Right

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Merkel targets 'shadow banks' in Lindau speech
Chancellor Angela Merkel opens the 2014 Lindau meetings. Photo: DPA

Merkel targets 'shadow banks' in Lindau speech

Chancellor Angela Merkel has opened an economics conference in Lindau, Bavaria, with a call for more regulation of so-called shadow banks. READ  

Dying town centres seek the miracle cure
A senior couple walk down Delmenhorst's main pedestrian promenade, amid a string of empty shops. Photo: Tomas Urbina

Dying town centres seek the miracle cure

Home to two-thirds of Germany's population, many of its small cities and towns are struggling to revive their declining centres. The Local's Tomas Urbina reports from Delmenhorst in Lower Saxony, as it tries to dig its way out of the economic doldrums. READ  

Quick-thinking trucker stops wrong-way driver
Signs warning drivers against entering a motorway off-road. Photo: DPA

Quick-thinking trucker stops wrong-way driver

Erich Mairleitner thought Tuesday would be another ordinary day hauling a load along the A3 motorway, but found himself the hero of the hour after stepping in to stop an accident. READ  

Germany ready to send arms to Iraqi Kurds
Usula van der Leyen and Frank-Walter Steinmeier. Photo: DPA

Germany ready to send arms to Iraqi Kurds

Germany is ready to send weapons to support Iraqi Kurds in their battle against the "barbaric" jihadist militants of the Islamic State, Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said Wednesday. READ  

The Local List
10 things to do before summer is really over
Photo: DPA

10 things to do before summer is really over

The German weather service (DWD) is blaming "Wild Wilma" for blanketing the country in cooler temperatures, but we know it's going to get a lot colder before the end of summer. This week's Local List challenges you to take advantage before autumn really sets in. READ  

Energy policy falls foul of federal auditors
Lightning illuminates the sky above a wind turbine. Photo: DPA

Energy policy falls foul of federal auditors

The Federal Court of Auditors (BRH) has sharply criticized Chancellor Angela Merkel's energy policy, saying that the previous coalition government failed to produce adequate financial plans. READ  

China orders German's execution for murders
A paramilitary guard stands inside Beijing's No.1 Detention Centre. Photo: DPA

China orders German's execution for murders

Update: A German man has been condemned to death in China for murdering his ex-girlfriend and her partner in a frenzied attack, it was reported on Wednesday. READ  

German aid planes to Iraq delayed
All filled up and nowhere to go. Photo: DPA

German aid planes to Iraq delayed

A German military flight to the conflict-addled region in northern Iraq has been delayed because Turkey denied landing permission for the layover at Incirlik airbase, according to a spokesman for the air force. READ  

Bomb shuts down A3 motorway
Photo: DPA

Bomb shuts down A3 motorway

A controlled detonation of a 500-kg bomb from the Second World War has left a 20-metre-wide crater in the middle of one of Germany's busiest traffic corridors on Tuesday night. READ  

Saxony schools get top marks
Photo: DPA

Saxony schools get top marks

A country-wide analysis has shown that Saxony has the best schools and Berlin has a lot of homework to do. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Culture
Sprechen Sie Deutsch? 10 reasons why you should.
Photo: DPA
National
Berlin's senate puts the brakes on Über
Photo: DPA
Gallery
The mysteries of Berlin's abandoned theme park
Photo: DPA
Culture
How I deal with my German Hausmeister
Photo: Ingrid Eulenfan/flickr
Gallery
Nine German treats you'll want to eat right now (and one you won't)
Photo: DPA
Society
Who's getting German citizenship?
Photo: DPA
Culture
How World War I changed Germany forever
Photo: APA/DPA
Gallery
The 12 best words in Austrian German
Photo: DPA
Society
'Look at those German shanty towns!'
Photo: Europeana.de 1914 - 1918
Gallery
A German soldier's life behind WWI lines
Education
Raising the bar for law & business in Germany
Photo: DPA
Business & Money
JobTalk: All you need to know about working in Germany
Photo: DPA
Features
The Local List Archive - Your guide to all things German
National
Share news tips with The Local Germany
Sponsored Article
Bilingual school turning education on its head
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se

3,322
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd