HYDERABAD—The Telangana State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (TSCDRC) has ordered State Bank of India (SBI) Koti to pay a customer a reimbursement of Rs 63,74,527 and a compensation of Rs 3 lakh for linking the customer’s account with internet banking facility without first obtaining their permission, which resulted in an instance of online fraud.
The individual who filed the complaint, Biresh Chandra Gangopadhyay, is 92 years old and retired from the Indian Administrative Service (IAS). He formerly served as the Secretary to the Government of Andhra Pradesh. The second complainant, his 86-year-old blind wife Aarati Gangopadhyay, is the second person to file a complaint.
The individuals who filed the complaint created a joint savings bank account at the State Bank of India, Balkampet branch. They opened three fixed deposits in 2017 for a total of Rs 10 lakh, Rs 15 lakhs, and Rs 15 lakhs for a duration of one year each with a mandate for auto-renewal. The FD receipts were issued in the name of Aarati Gangopadhyay.
When Biresh Chandra went to the bank in 2019 to update the passbook of his wife, the teller told him that the printer was broken, and instead, she gave him an account statement that covered the time period from November 2018 to March 2019. He was taken aback when he saw that their account showed a balance of barely 3 lakh instead of the nearly 28 lakh that he had expected to see. It came to his attention that all of the unauthorised withdrawals had been processed through internet banking, despite the fact that the account in question was only equipped with a ‘View Only’ function and did not support internet banking.
He brought the information to the attention of the manager of the bank branch where he worked. Additionally, he filed a complaint with the police in which he brought to their attention the unauthorised withdrawal of roughly 63.75 lakh rupees from his wife’s savings bank account, in addition to the premature and unauthorised closure of three fixed deposits totaling 40 lakh rupees.
In the name of five different businesses, a total of Rs 63,74,536 worth of transactions were completed with 37 different parties. The bank believes that Aarati Gangopadhyay’s online credentials were stolen, and that one-time passwords were supplied to her on each of the times when her online banking security was broken. The bank argued that the complainants’ domestic helper, through whom the complainants had previously conducted banking transactions, was involved in the transactions that are in question.
The TSCDRC stated that it was willful carelessness to leave the vulnerable client to her own resources without verification, despite the fact that the business was aware that the customer was an elderly person who had made the intentional decision to go with the ‘View Only’ access option. The Commission charged SBI with taking on the role of facilitating the transfer and ensuring that it went well.
The Consumer Forum stated that it was willful negligence to leave the vulnerable customer to her own resources without proper verification, despite the fact that the business was aware that the customer was an elderly person who had made the conscious decision to go with the ‘View Only’ access option.