No rules on bank web links – Ombudsman

BNZ customers may have thought Access link implied bank backing

There is nothing in the Banking Code of Practice about appropriate precautions in web linking, says Ross Miller, an investigator for the Banking Ombudsman’s office.

The BNZ bank came under fire last week for placing on its website a link (now removed) to the collapsed Access broking firm.

This appears to have given some BNZ customers the impression that the bank in some way endorsed or recommended Access and might be relied on for support in the event of failure.

Although some websites append a caution to offsite links, warning the user that the link leads to another company’s site and the owner of the original website is not responsible for content or transactions beyond that point, this is far from standard practice.

The Banking Code, created by the NZ Bankers’ Association, would be the Ombudsman’s first point of reference in the event of receiving a complaint that the web link was misleading, Miller says. However, no such complaint had been received.

Two clauses that might possibly be invoked, he says, expect banks to undertake to “provide you [the customer] with timely information to help you understand how your accounts and products or services operate, so that you can decide whether they are appropriate to your needs” and “use our best endeavours to make sure that our banking systems and technology are secure".

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