Perils of online banking

April 12 2007 by Ellen Roseman

If you lose money from your online account because of fraud, the bank can blame you for not being responsible with your computer and decide not to compensate you for your monetary loss. This is what happened to Jerry Whelan, whose dispute with Manulife Bank was covered in this column (March 8).

He’s asked the Ombudsman for Banking Services and Investments to investigate his case, but could be waiting a while. I’d like to hear from others who’ve had the same treatment or who have opinions of what the banks are doing in such cases.

4 comments

  1. Bylo Selhi

    Apr 12 2007

    Ellen, you may be interested in this discussion on FWF. It basically back up what the above reader who works in IT has said about the technology. I also propose a way for Manulife and The Star to resolve the cause of Whelan’s loss. Keeping the sharks away?

  2. Vlad

    May 31 2007

    I am not familiar with Manulife account but what has happened does not make sense… Even if a virus would have captured his account number and internet password (note that is only an internet password) it should not have helped. In order to withdraw money using a debit card you need the account number and a debit card password (it is different from an internet password). Let say that you have his an account number and a internet password. You will be able to log into that account but what can you do? Pay the existing bills or pay the new bills? These are easily traceable… Transfer money into another account? You have to call your bank… another password (a different one that internet password and debit card password) and you should be identified by the bank (most likely by birth date)… and you can transfer money only into another bank account (easily traceable again).

    The only conclusion is that the money have been withdraw by knowing debit card number and debit card password. Most likely that they were copied when he used the debit card at a merchant. But how the money has been withdrawn using two different debit cards and how it was possible considering that they were not Manulife debit cards this is an aspect that Manulife should clarify. Anyway they should have seen it and locked the account.

    As a general rule I would advise everyone to use a credit card instead of a debit card when you make payments. Debit cards offer no protection. Credit cards offer better protection. When you use a credit card you are liable only for a small amount of money, and usually it is waived, and you will earn points, cash back money, etc.

    As I wrote above Jerry should ask Manulife how it was possible knowing an account number and an internet password to withdraw money using debit cards… There is something that he has not been told of…

    good luck
    vlad