What’s behind online banking guarantee’s?

Filed under General Security

100% Guarantee!

Wow…I’m really on this banking kick as of late…

So I was watching TV tonight and saw a commercial for WaMu (Washington Mutual Bank) advertising their “Online Banking Guarantee“. What I found interesting was the whole scenario that played out in the commercial…

Woman: “Hey, I’m using WaMu Online Banking…”
Man: “Online Banking?? That’s not safe!!”
Woman: “It’s safe…I have WaMu’s Online Banking Guarantee!”
Man: “Oh…cool.”

(Note: this wasn’t word for word but pretty close…you get the idea.)

As a security professional I find it disturbing that you would “guarantee” something (like online banking) is safe and secure without a ton of terms and conditions (I’ll get to this in a minute). We all know that nothing is 100% secure. Sure, online banking in general is safe to use..we all know banks are regulated to provide customer safeguards…etc…So how does WaMu pull this off? Here’s the deal:

“For any fraudulent or unauthorized transaction that has been initiated during an online banking session at wamu.com, WaMu will provide 100% reimbursement of the transaction amount plus any related account charges imposed by WaMu or lost account interest resulting from such transaction.”

Sounds good right? Here is the kicker…you as the customer have responsibilities which if you don’t live up to, you get no guarantee…check these out:

“You have protected your password by creating one that would be hard for others to guess and do not write down or share your password with anyone.”

Customer: Hard to guess password? So my dog’s name isn’t hard to guess?

“If you suspect a fraudulent or unauthorized transaction has occurred, you must contact WaMu within 60 days…”

Customer: I’m on it…I never, ever procrastinate about anything!

“If you knowingly share your username and/or password information with others, we will consider any direct or indirect transaction initiated online by this person as an authorized transaction.”

Customer: My wife knows my username/password does that count? Damn…I’m getting a ton of these pop-up’s on my PC…weird.

and…buried deep in the Online Services Agreement & Disclosure:

“You are responsible for the installation, maintenance, and operation of the Computer and browser software. The risk of error, failure, or non-performance is your risk and includes the risk that you do not operate the Computer or software properly. The Bank is not responsible for any errors or failures from any malfunction of the Computer or the software nor is it responsible for any electronic virus, viruses, worms, or similar software that you may encounter. The Bank has no liability to you for any damage or other loss, direct or consequential, which you may suffer or incur by reason of your use of the Computer or the software.

Thus…no guarantee. Enjoy!

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