• 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
Technical glitch & boos kick-off Wagner fest
A scene from the opening night production of "Tannhäuser" at the 2014 Bayreuth Festival. Photo: DPA

Technical glitch & boos kick-off Wagner fest

The opening night Friday of the world-famous Bayreuth Festival, the month-long summer opera extravaganza dedicated to the works of Richard Wagner, was halted for nearly an hour due to a technical hitch while fans were not impressed with the modern take of 'Tannhäuser.' READ  

Lufthansa to resume Tel Aviv flights
A Lufthansa flight at Ben Gurion International Airport. Photo: DPA

Lufthansa to resume Tel Aviv flights

UPDATE: German flag carrier Lufthansa said Friday evening it would resume flights to and from Tel Aviv on Saturday after a four-day suspension due to the conflict in the Gaza strip. READ  

Pro-Gaza, Israel marches choke city centres
Protesters gather in Berlin on Friday. Photo: DPA

Pro-Gaza, Israel marches choke city centres

UPDATE: Pro-Palestinian and pro-Israeli demonstrators marched in Berlin and other cities on Friday's International Quds Day, as thousands of police stood ready to deal with excesses, including anti-Semitism that had marred earlier protests. READ  

Finders, keepers for Berlin cash hunt
Money will be hidden around Berlin. Photo: @HiddenCash/Twitter

Finders, keepers for Berlin cash hunt

A California millionaire, who became an internet phenomenon by hiding cash and tweeting hints about its location, is bringing the frenzy to Germany this weekend. READ  

'Police killer' confesses to shooting officer
Officers searching a field on Thursday near the scene of the killing. Photo: DPA

'Police killer' confesses to shooting officer

UPDATE: A suspect has been arrested following the killing of an off-duty police officer in western Germany on Wednesday night. The shooting sparked a large manhunt near Frankfurt on Thursday. READ  

German tourist shot dead in Kenya
Two foreign tourists were murdered in Mombasa this month. Photo: DPA

German tourist shot dead in Kenya

Kenyan police said on Friday a female tourist shot dead in the coastal city of Mombasa was from Germany, the second such killing of a foreign visitor by gunmen there this month. READ  

Firms would back Russia sanctions '100 percent'
Flowers laid to the victims of the MH17 plane crash at the Korporaal van Oudheusdenkazerne army barracks in Hilversum, The Netherlands. Photo: EPA/JERRY LAMPEN

Firms would back Russia sanctions '100 percent'

German industry would support "100 percent" tougher sanctions against Russia over the Ukraine crisis, the chairman of a major business lobby said on Friday. READ  

Expat Dispatches
What do you love about Germany?
Photo: DPA

What do you love about Germany?

This week's Expat Dispatches is gathering a lengthy list of everything we love about Germany. Blogger and writer Liv Hambrett starts with her reasons why she loves the country. READ  

BSkyB to launch pan-European pay-TV giant
The Murdoch media empire is rolling out a vast new pay-TV network through Europe. Photo: DPA

BSkyB to launch pan-European pay-TV giant

UPDATE: Rupert Murdoch's media empire 21st Century Fox has struck a mega deal with British satellite television group BSkyB to create a pan-European pay-TV giant, both companies said on Friday. READ  

German of the Week
Should we all get €12,000 a year?
Martin Bohmeyer has not worked for money in six months. Photo: DPA

Should we all get €12,000 a year?

What would happen if everyone was suddenly paid €1,000 a month with no strings attached? "Let's try it," says Michael Bohmeyer, who raised the money through crowdfunding and will now experiment with the idea of a basic income for one year. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Photo: DPA
Education
Top university switches master's courses to English
instagram.com/gotzemario
Gallery
Germany's World Cup stars share their holiday photos
Travel
Plans unveiled for bike trail along former Iron Curtain
Photo: DPA
Sport
Yoga helped Jogi's boys bring World Cup home
Photo: DPA
National
Pressure on police over anti-Semitic protests
Photo: DPA
Gallery
The Local List: 12 best words in German
Photo: DPA
Politics
View from Germany: 'Nobody will win in an economic war with Russia'
Photo: DPA
Business & Money
Jobtalk: How innovative is Germany?
Photo: DPA
Gallery
German Bucket List: How many of these can you tick off?
Photo: DPA
Gallery
Germany's week in pictures: July 12th - July 18th
Photo: DPA
Business & Money
Which workers is Germany short of?
Photo: DPA
Gallery
Ten best expat jobs in Germany: Which one would you choose?
Photo: Europeana.de 1914 - 1918
Gallery
A German soldier's life behind WWI lines
Photo: Shutterstock
Features
Some of the most embarrassing mistakes you can make in German
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
CurrencyFair: Why it pays when making overseas transfers
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

3,345
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd