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HSBC online lets users take blame for security issues

Ts&Cs to be reviewed

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HSBC has said that it will review the wording of its terms and conditions for its Internet banking service.

Section 2.4 of the conditions states:

You must not access the Internet Banking Service from any computer connected to a local area network (LAN) or any public internet access device or access point without first making sure that no-one else will be able to observe or copy your access or get access to the Internet Banking Service pretending to be you.

So presumably customers are required to put towels over their heads and monitors to shield them from prying eyes.

Further on in the Ts&Cs the company states that the customer will be liable for any losses that are the result of gross negligence. And gross negligence is defined as non-compliance with the terms and conditions.

This leaves it wide open for HSBC to blame the customer entirely for any problems resulting from breached security.

David Howarth, the UK's Internet banking manager said that the terms and conditions were intended to highlight possible security holes to customers, not to give HSBC "an easy opt out" in the event of a problem with an account.

He acknowledged that there was scope for misinterpretation, and said that section 2.4 would be referred back to the bank's legal department to see if the wording could be altered.

"We can assure you that we try to treat our customers fairly, and are not running from the responsibility that the bank has," he said. "In the unlikely event that it should ever get that far, courts tend to hold up the consumer point of view anyway, rather than strictly adhere to the terms and conditions." ®

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