Following the increasing cases of Automated Teller Machine (ATM) fraud, the Consumer Protection Council (CPC) and the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA) have expressed their readiness to embark on legal actions against any bank that failed to compensate victims of such frauds.

•A customer using the ATM

Blaming  the increasing cases of ATM fraud on the internal collaboration of bank officials and outside criminals, the two bodies said that banks should accept responsibilitty for the fraud especially when it has been proved that a customer did not compromise his or her secret pin.

Speaking at a forum, Emmanuel Ataguba, legal adviser to CPC, said the council was prepared to take the necessary steps to ensure that banks compensate customers that are defrauded through the ATM.

Ataguba said: “We see the case as internal problem of the banks. There is always collusion between the staff of the bank and the fraudsters to perpetrate the act. We are looking at a way to seek redress and we have started gathering the data base for us to be able to take proper action against the banks concerning the matter.”

Biodun Olumuyiwa, head, media unit, CPC, who shared the views of Ataguba, lamented that despite the increasing electronic fraud, banks are not taking the ATM fraud issue serious and said the council was working to seek redress in court on behalf of victims.

According to Olumuyiwa Akinborode, secretary, Nigeria Bar Association (NBA), “This is another very important issue that the association is taking a look at, which is public interest litigation. This is an area that we are going to seriously look at and work on; it is one area that the NBA is going to be re-invigorated to enable us champion the cause.”

He expressed regret over the uncooperative attitude of the banks in dealing with the fraud cases. “all the claims of the banks that they would not be held accountable for any loss incurred by the customers through the ATM could only be proved by the court of law; it is not just enough for the banks to say it would not be held accountable for a claim and it will just be taken like that. I believe that by the time we come fully on stream, the public interest on litigation sector will become accountable,” he maintained.

Commenting on the issue, Mr. Isaac Adeniyi, an Abuja lawyer, said the rise in ATM fraud is as a result of lack of adequate legislation to address the problem, noting that “it was not foreseen that such development would become a critical issue in the banking sector.”

Adeniyi noted that the banking sector, which is largely regulated, by the Banking and Other Financial Institutions Act (BOFIA) did not make provisions for handling the issue since ATM fraud was not in vogue at the time the BOFIA was passed into law.

Meanwhile, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) says despite the increasing electronic fraud, it will continue to build confidence in the nation’s electronic banking system.

Consequently, the apex bank said it has set up a help desk in the CBN to address cases of ATM fraud. In a recent newspaper publication, Mohammed Abdullahi, CBN head of Corporate Affairs said: “In order to sustain public confidence in the Nigerian payment system, the CBN has directed that henceforth all complaints on card transactions should be treated and responded to within 72 hours of receipt of the complaints by banks.”

He said CBN has advised the respective banks to maintain open similar help desks to assist their customers who are daily victims of ATM fraud.

He added” “CBN warned bank customers not to divulge their passwords or any other banking details to anyone through the internet and urged the general public to disregard any e-mail or website that links the CBN with such transactions.”