The Banking Ombudsman has recently decided that a customer was not responsible for the $60,000 he lost to a scammer.

The man received an email from the Inland Revenue Department about his tax refund. He did not consider this unusual as he had recently been in contact with the IRD.

The link provided in the email took the man to his myIR login, and he was asked to set a new password.

The link then took the man to his internet banking page, where he was prompted to log in in order to receive his refund.

The scammer then used those details to log into the man’s internet banking from their own device. The bank sent a text confirmation code to the man, which he then entered into the banking page.

This gave the scammer access to the man’s internet banking. It was not until some days later that the man realised $60,000 was missing from his bank account.

He complained to the bank, but the bank told him he was at fault for sharing his banking details. They offered to reimburse the man $30,000, but he refused and complained to the Ombudsman.

The Ombudsman had to determine whether the man had taken reasonable steps to protect his banking details and whether he had complied with the terms and conditions of the bank. If he had, the bank was liable for any unauthorised transactions on the man’s account.

The Ombudsman decided that the man had not disclosed his details or text confirmation code to any other person. Rather, he had entered those details into a page which looked like his bank’s website. There was no reason that the man could have known the page was a scam, especially as he had received a genuine text confirmation from the bank.

The text from the bank had not said that the code was being used to set up internet banking on a new device. The Ombudsman noted that if the text had specified that, the man may have been alerted to the scam and not put the code into the website.

The Ombudsman decided the man had acted reasonably and had not breached the bank’s terms and conditions. The bank reimbursed the man the full $60,000.

It is important to be aware of your financial rights and obligations. If you are confused about these, it pays to seek advice from a professional with experience in the area.


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Alan Knowsley and Hunter Flanagan-Connors