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Know your rights if online banking goes down

Emma Lunn
Written By:
Emma Lunn

Most people use mobile or online banking these days – but what are your rights when your app stops working, or you can’t login to your account?

Banking online or on a smartphone is a convenient way to manage money for millions of consumers, but these technologies aren’t infallible.

Most of the major banks have had online banking outages at some point. While most just last an hour or two, others have seen online services out of action for much longer.

At best, not being able to log in to your account can be frustrating. At worst, it can cost you money.

So, what are your rights?

Complain to your bank

Some people might be left out of pocket as a result of a bank outage. For example, you might not have been able to pay a bill and incurred a penalty charge as a result.

In this situation, the first thing you should do is complain to your bank.

Kevin Mountford, co-founder and savings expert at Raisin UK, said: “By getting in touch with the bank/service, you can show you took all reasonable steps to try to get it resolved. If, for whatever reason, the bank/financial service cannot fix the issue or does not respond to you, it’s then vital to start gathering all the evidence you need for a complaint.

“This evidence should include statements showing charges resulting from the problem, the email/phone information to show you tried contacting them when you first became aware of the issue, and a copy of your credit file if it’s been negatively hit during the outage.”

Collate as much evidence as possible that will help with your complaint. This might include bank, mortgage or credit card statements showing charges resulting from the bank’s IT problems, bus or train tickets or petrol receipts if you travelled to a bank branch to sort out the issue, and communication such as emails that show how the situation impacted you and how much time you spend trying to resolve it.

Take your case to the Financial Ombudsman Service

If your bank fails to resolve your complaint adequately, and pay any losses or compensation you believe to be due, you can take your case to the Financial Services Ombudsman (FOS).

The FOS has the power to ask your bank to put things right if you’ve been left out of pocket due to an IT issue.

The FOS website says: “If we think your bank has done something wrong or treated you unfairly, we’ll ask them to put things right.

“This will depend on the individual circumstances and how you’ve been affected – it could include telling the bank to pay you compensation to make sure you don’t end up out of pocket and/or recognise the inconvenience and trouble you’ve been through. “

Has your credit score been affected?

When it comes to paying bills or managing your overdraft, an outage could affect your credit score.

“Missing any payment will cause your credit score to go down. In an outage, sometimes, the bank or service won’t report data, which could also impact you if your credit score was meant to improve because of on-time payment,” said Mountford, “It’s vital that you also contact the credit reference agency (like Experian or ClearScore), who will then get in touch with your bank/service to get the correct information.”

If issues with your credit score aren’t resolved, you can then take it further to the FOS who will investigate your complaint and ensure that action is taken. You can also complain to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) if the credit reference agency does nothing to resolve the problem.