As has become abundantly clear in recent days, online and mobile banking is far from perfect. In the most recent spate of trouble, over a million TSB customers have had trouble with their accounts – ranging from seeing someone else’s account information, to being locked out of their accounts, to having accounts disappear altogether. Yesterday, Lloyds, Halifax, and Bank of Scotland joined the cacophony, as dozens more online bankers were unable to access their money. As the saga continues, it’s time to ask how these issues can be resolved, and what we can do as individuals to keep ourselves safe when using online banking services.
TSB’s online banking woes began last weekend, as the company attempted to migrate customers’ accounts to a new IT system, following the bank’s move from Lloyds group to its new parent company, Sabadell. Customers were warned that their access would be suspended over the weekend, as the process was carried out, but, over a week on, the new system is still not functioning correctly. As many as a million TSB customers remain unable to access their accounts, inevitably leading to a whole host of issues, from minor headaches to substantial disruption to their lives. One TSB customer told the BBC that his roofing business had lost £2,000 of revenue because the problems with his TSB account meant he could not pay contractors. Others have reported similar experiences, and it’s not only customers who are struggling – staff in local branches have been pushed to breaking point with the drama. One branch manager reported that “In my branch, every member of staff has been in tears and all are saying this has been the worst experience of their lives”. Even TSB’s boss, Paul Pester, has claimed that the bank is, collectively, “on our knees” in the wake of the disruption. As the issues continue, IT giant IBM have been drafted in to help. TSB hope with their expertise and fresh eyes, online banking services can be fully operational again soon.
TSB have already began to offer compensation to affected customers, and their final bill is expected to run into the tens of millions of pounds. To help customers avoid charges incurred by the havoc, all interest and fees on accounts with overdrafts have been frozen for the month of April. Nonetheless, Pesters will have to face the Treasury Select Committee tomorrow, as they investigate exactly what went wrong. The committee is responsible for examining banking practices in the UK, and is headed by Nicky Morgan MP. In response to the continued disruption, Morgan said “This is yet another addition to the litany of failures of banking IT systems.” She continued to suggest that “It simply isn’t good enough to expose customers to IT failures, including delays in paying and an inability to access their own money”.
What to do if you’ve been affected
Understandably, TSB have been hit with a tidal wave of complaints and enquiries, resulting in hold times of at least an hour on their customer helpline. If you have been affected by the online banking meltdown, you could receive compensation. Below we outline a few tips for complaining:
- If you have been directly affected – put out of pocket as a result of the IT issues – you are more likely to receive compensation. You might have been charged fees because of a payment which the disruption delayed, for example.
- When writing your complaint, it is a good idea to be as specific as possible – state exactly how much the disruption cost you, so the bank has an idea of how much compensation you could reasonably be owed.
- If you have been indirectly affected by the disruption, it is still worth making a complaint, since you still have a chance of being compensated. For instance, you might have run up a large phone bill trying to rearrange payments affected by the disruption. Again, be as specific as possible when you complain, for the best chances of being appropriately reimbursed.
- Finally, although the disruption has caused a lot of stress, remember to remain calm and polite when writing your complaint.
As well as complaints from customers, TSB’s online banking meltdown has led to warnings that fraudsters could take advantage of the chaos. With this in mind, we’ve gathered together some tips for staying safe when using online banking services:
- Change your Password regularly
According to Money Advice, the two most common passwords are “123456” and “password”! Whilst convenient to remember, these are not secure. The strongest passwords contain a mixture of upper and lower case letters, numbers, and symbols.
- Secure your Devices
Make sure that all devices which you use to access online banking are secured with a PIN code or password. This will prevent anyone else from accessing your account if you have usernames or passwords saved.
- Log out fully, every Time
Always log out manually when you are finished using online banking – especially if using a public computer.
- Go directly to your Bank’s Website
Type your bank’s website address into your browser directly every time you use their online service, and never follow links from elsewhere. This ensures you are visiting the bank’s official site every time, and do not risk inputting your details into a scam site. Some scammers send emails which look like they are from your bank, so never follow email links when it comes to online banking. You can tell your connection to the bank’s site is secure when a locked padlock, or unbroken key appears in the URL bar of your browser.
- Avoid Public WiFi
When using public WiFi, it is difficult to tell if the connection is secure. It is actually safer to use 3G or 4G when banking on the go.
- Anti-Virus Software
Keeping your computer up-to-date with anti-virus software protects you from scammers trying to steal your information through malicious software.
- Check your Statements
Finally, regularly review your account and report any unusual activity – for example payments you do not remember making – to your bank as soon as possible.
If you have a loan, overdraft, or credit card with TSB, or any bank, and are struggling to pay, get in touch with one of our friendly advisors to discuss your options, by calling 0808 156 7730. To read more about your options for dealing with debt, click here.