Campaigners today urged for the banking code to be changed to ensure customers are protected against online fraud and fully compensated if they become a victim.

The voluntary code sets standards for good practice in the UK banking industry and is up for review in the next couple of months.

Which? has called for the regulations to be updated to cover growing fraud, such as hacking, phishing and call centre theft, which are not currently included in the framework.

Banks and building societies generally refund such losses to their customers, but without the rules of the code this is not guaranteed and should be made compulsory, according to Which?

“Our concern is that at present consumers do not have the same protection for online fraud as they do for other types of card crime under the banking code,” said Mike Naylor of Which? Money Magazine.

“The code needs to be updated because without the guidelines it is difficult for customers to complain. The banks have a get out clause at the moment and they make decisions on compensation on a case by case basis”

Which? have submitted a report to the review board with their recommendations and warn that some banks may begin to take a harder stance against those people who suffer such losses.

According to the banking organisation, Apacs, the Bank of Ireland said that they would begin to refuse to compensate people who had suffered more than one loss, but now appear to have backtracked.

“The banks are currently honouring refunds, but they may take a stricter approach in the future,” said Naylor. “However, until the banks are 100 per cent sure that their systems are failsafe and that under no circumstances can anyone’s details be stolen, everyone should be refunded for their losses.”

He also said that the financial organisations send out mixed messages to their customers about responding to emails from a bank. “I have seen several emails that ask the recipient to click on a link, albeit with extra security details. They say that they will never approach you and then they do. Internet fraud is still relatively small, but this is a potentially huge problem for the banks.”