Today Tonight fails to be fair and accurate

27 July 2007

On Thursday, 26 July 2007, Channel 7's Today Tonight aired a story regarding alleged fraudulent activity on a customer's account, suggesting that the Bank was at fault for not reimbursing the customer immediately and without question. The program also suggested that "some banks were seeking to avoid all responsibility" for internet fraud and were "placing the liability of stolen funds back into the lap of customers". The program criticised the security measures made available by the banking industry to customers using the internet.

Channel 7's story was inaccurate and did not give its viewers key facts

It is inaccurate to say banks place the liability for stolen funds on customers. Under the Electronic Funds Transfer Code of Conduct, which governs all banks, a customer is not liable for fraud or unauthorised transactions except where the customer has contributed to the loss. The responsibility for proving that a customer has contributed to losses lies on the bank.

Today Tonight also quoted consultants suggesting that the banking industry in Australia only offers internet security devices to certain business customers. This omits the important fact that the Bank offers NetCode SMS and NetBank security alerts to all customers.

Commonwealth Bank takes pride in the advanced security protections it offers all its internet customers and emphatically rejects suggestions these protections are inadequate or not widely available.

Today Tonight's presentation about Mike Kargodorian's claims appears to have deliberately omitted some critical facts known to the Bank and to Channel 7 at the time they aired the story. Those facts relate to the size and timing of transactions and the fact that the customer's computer had been reformatted before the Bank's expert could look at the computer, with the result that the relevant data was no longer readily available to the Bank's expert.

Although the Bank was only contacted by Today Tonight at around 4.15pm for a story which went to air at 6.48pm, the Bank made the relevant facts available to Today Tonight at 5.40pm in time for it to produce an accurate and fair story. It is extremely regrettable that Channel 7 chose to run the story even though it knew, or should have known, it was neither fair nor accurate.