News Release 2000-53 | July 19, 2000

OCC Warns that Some Website Names May Confuse Bank Customers

WASHINGTON, D.C — The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency today issued an alert outlining steps national banks can take to protect their customers from problems arising from web sites with names similar to those used by banks.

The alert was prompted by recent cases in which bank customers provided confidential account information to web sites that they mistakenly thought were maintained by their bank.

In today's alert, the OCC recommends national banks carefully select and protect the names of their Internet website addresses. To avoid potential customer confusion, the alert suggests that a bank take appropriate actions to protect its on-line identity and to ensure customers use the appropriate Internet address when communicating with the bank.'

The alert reminds national banks that they can dispute the use of the similar domain name under the terms of the domain name license agreement, which protects a domain name against other identical or confusing domain names. In addition, a bank may also initiate action in federal district court under the Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act if it believes the name was acquired in bad faith.

National banks should protect against unauthorized changes to their domain names by selecting a secure means of communicating with their registration service that ensures an adequate level of authentication.

Suspected thefts or other crimes involving similar domain names should be reported by national banks on Suspicious Activity Reports filed with law enforcement authorities.

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Dean DeBuck
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