Banks’ customers will foot bill for carelessness

Bank customers are soon going to have a PIN code they use with their credit and debit cards – and not for any other purpose. The impending change highlights the need for people to take care in choosing, memorising and guarding their login details, and not divulging them in response to emails and other messages.

For information and advice on choosing and using passwords, click here

Banks' new terms and conditions will mean that cardholders could be liable if they use a PIN that can be easily guessed, or if the bank decides they have been careless about guarding the number at an ATM. The changes mean that customers must have a unique four digit PIN that is used only for its credit and debit cards. It must not be a number that can be easily guessed, such as a year of birth.Santander has already started the process by changing its terms and conditions, giving it greater freedom to refuse to refund losses if it decides that the customer has been negligent.

The new rules also cover how customers use and secure their mobile phones, stipulating the use of a password to activate their handsets. The bank will be able to reject any claim for compensation for losses resulting from current accounts having been accessed from stolen mobile devices which are not password-protected.

The move follows a massive leap in card fraud, with industry figures showing an increase of 9% in the first half of 2012 to £185 million.

However, it has angered some critics, who claim that banks are trying to shift the cost of card fraud on to customers. One expert said that if Santander want to ensure that weak PINs are not used, it should issue random numbers to customers, and not permit them to be changed, which is the case wtih some banks in Germany. Critics also claim that people who have difficulty in remembering numbers and normally have one PIN for a range of services, will suffer.

But a Santander spokesperson said: "In line with other providers, we believe that by having security details unique to the accounts they hold with us, customers can help protect themselves further against fraud risks."

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