Half of on-line banking customers responding to a survey by PSI Global said they do not understand their personal liability in cases of fraud.

"If many consumers already using on-line banking do not understand their liability, what effect does this lack of knowledge have on consumers who are considering on-line banking?" said PSI Global on-line program research manager Doug Andersen.

Although there has been little if any such fraud reported, Mr. Andersen said consumer fears are "a formidable obstacle financial institutions must overcome if they want to retain current on-line customers as well as attract new customers."

Of a survey sample of 1,200 on-line people, 51% disagreed or strongly disagreed with the statement, "I have a good understanding of my liability if someone illegally accesses my on-line account."

Another 36% agreed or strongly agreed with that statement, and the rest were neutral.

Mr. Andersen advised that financial institutions not only call attention to their security measures, but also set explicit liability maximums similar to the $50 limit on credit card losses.

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