Bank partially reimburses client after hackers strike
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I am a lifelong customer of one of the major banks. Towards the end of last year, my online banking accounts were hacked and a large sum of money was fraudulently withdrawn from them.
I reported this to the fraud department of the bank as soon as I found out.
They said they would investigate the matter and should have a result in four to six weeks’ time.
After just over four weeks, about a third of the amount was recovered and returned to me.
After a delay, over the yearend holidays, I was advised verbally by a member of their staff that they couldn’t refund the full amount but would “split the difference 50:50”.
I advised them that this was not satisfactory as I had entrusted my money to their safekeeping and, as a major bank, one assumed that the money was safe.
They responded by forwarding me an ex gratia settlement offer of just slightly more than 50% of the difference. No explanation was given why the full amount would not be refunded.
However, the offer was subject to me keeping it strictly confidential. In the event of my breaching this confidence, they reserved the right to seek repayment of the amount together with interest and any associated legal costs.
I still wasn’t happy with this and was advised that I could appeal to the bank’s internal ombudsman, which I did.
In the meantime, I was paying interest to the bank on the amount fraudulently withdrawn as the fraudsters had accessed my housing loan and overdraft facilities.
When I asked why I was not being fully refunded, they explained that I was a “victim of crime”!
They subsequently advised me that the bank had not changed its decision as “the loss was not caused due to any negligence by the bank”.
I went back to them and asked them to advise me whose negligence it was as I certainly had not disclosed my password or PIN to anybody.
As a major bank, with all the qualified staff and sophisticated systems at their disposal, they should have been able to determine how the fraudsters were able to access my bank accounts.
I have had no response to my e-mail dated March 11, 2017, despite sending a reminder.
I have deliberately not provided information which could identify me or the bank as I am afraid they will try and recover the amount already paid to me.
In terms of the settlement agreement, they were obliged to pay me within x business days. They didn’t comply with this condition and effected payment two business days later.
I’m unsure whether their breaching the payment period entitles me to breach the confidentiality condition. Unfortunately, the bank has the resources to fight a legal battle, which I do not. Georgie: I would take this up with the office of the new Banking Ombudsman, Reana Steyn.