• 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
'Mad prof' swims length of Rhine river
Photo: DPA

'Mad prof' swims length of Rhine river

A German chemistry professor started on Monday a gruelling four-week solo swim down the Rhine river for the benefit of science and the environment. READ  

Unfair advantage for one-legged long jumper?
Markus Rehm became German champion on Saturday. Photo: DPA

Unfair advantage for one-legged long jumper?

Paralympics gold medallist Markus Rehm triumphed over his non-disabled rivals on Saturday, winning the German long jumping championship. But international athletics officials are now reviewing whether his prosthetic leg gave him an unfair advantage. READ  

Woodcarving champions - in pictures
Photo: DPA

Woodcarving champions - in pictures

Chainsaws, wood planes and sand paper were out over the weekend in Saxony-Anhalt where more than 30 artists competed in the International Woodcarving Championships. READ  

Hamburg could treat infected Ebola doctor
Liberian health workers in protective clothing bury an Ebola victim in early July. Photo: DPA

Hamburg could treat infected Ebola doctor

A World Health Organisation doctor infected with the deadly Ebola virus while trying to help stop it spreading through West Africa could travel to a Hamburg clinic for treatment. READ  

Germany evacuates embassy in Libya
Black smoke billowing from a storage depot of fuel that was hit by a rocket the night before near the airport in Tripoli on July 28th. Photo: EPA/SABRI ELMHEDWI

Germany evacuates embassy in Libya

UPDATE: Germany pulled its embassy staff out of Tripoli on Monday, a day after advising all its citizens currently in Libya to leave the strife-torn country immediately. READ  

Police kill fleeing drug dealer with bad shot
Photo: DPA

Police kill fleeing drug dealer with bad shot

A policeman is being investigated for manslaughter after he shot a fleeing man, wanted on drug charges, in the back of the head. The officer claimed he had aimed for his legs. READ  

Germany's students fail to graduate in time
A German student protests against the Bologna reforms in Mainz in 2010. Photo: DPA

Germany's students fail to graduate in time

Leaked figures show the average student in Germany still takes around four years to complete a bachelor's degree, suggesting controversial reforms to higher education have so far failed to cut down the number of Germany's perpetual students. READ  

Lawmakers earn millions on the side
Bavarian lawmaker Peter Gauweiler made almost €1 million on the side. Photo: DPA

Lawmakers earn millions on the side

A quarter of all politicians in the German Parliament are making additional income on top of their parliamentary salary, a transparency group said on Saturday. Thirteen lawmakers have made more than €100,000 in the last few months. READ  

Schweinsteiger sorry for holiday video
Schweinsteiger has apologized after the video of him on holiday was posted on YouTube. Photo: DPA

Schweinsteiger sorry for holiday video

UPDATE: Germany’s World Cup winning star Bastian Schweinsteiger has apologized after a video emerged of him on YouTube leading a chant insulting Borussia Dortmund supporters and players. READ  

Sale stopped of oldest message in a bottle
Konrad Fischer with his find. Photo: DPA

Sale stopped of oldest message in a bottle

UPDATE: A fisherman who found the world's oldest message in a bottle tossed into the sea in northern Germany has failed in his attempt to sell it on eBay. The auction was stopped at the last minute. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Photo: Bundesarchiv/Bild 183-S45825
Culture
Germany puts 700,000 WWI docs online
Photo: DPA
Society
This man wants to give all of us €12,000 a year
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
Gallery
German Bucket List: How many of these can you tick off?
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
Bilingual school turning education on its head
Sponsored Article
CurrencyFair: Why it pays when making overseas transfers
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

3,221
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd