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Ulster Bank: 'Human error' caused cash to disappear from some accounts

Some customers said their bank cards have been declined, even though they recently got paid.

Image: RollingNews.ie

Updated 4.15pm

ULSTER BANK HAS said an account glitch which resulted in funds disappearing from customers’ accounts was as a result of human error.

Many customers have complained today about discrepancies in their bank accounts as money that had been transferred into their accounts suddenly was no longer appearing.

The bank has said this was as a result of a payment file which did not process last night and has assured customers that the money is still in the payment file and will be processed overnight.

One person on Twitter this morning said his salary had “disappeared” from his account.

“Standing orders/ direct debits due to hit. When can I expect issue to be resolved and will you compensate for cost of bounced DDM?,” he said.

“Card has been declined checked the app and shows my balances not as they should be,” another customer said.

One woman said her account is now “in a minus” even though she was paid yesterday.

A customer who spoke to TheJournal.ie said a payment went into her account yesterday morning and she was able to make transfers and use her debit card. However, when she looked at her account this morning, she noticed it is now overdrawn.

“I called and they said that payments or lodgements made into accounts over the last day or two have disappeared and they are working to resolve the issue. They gave no timescale but said we shouldn’t be charged for overdrawn balances or have payments returned.”

An Irishman who is on holiday in Gibraltar also got in touch to say that his ATM transaction was declined. He said he tried to contact Ulster Bank but could not get through to customer care.

He told TheJournal.ie that he felt he is “just sort of abandoned out here”.

“In huge overdraft in both current accounts and need to do a food shop and pay bills,” one woman said on Twitter.

In an updated statement this afternoon, the bank said:

As a result of human error, a payment file did not process last night, which means that some transactions applied to some customers accounts since 20 April are temporarily not showing.
We investigated this issue as a matter of urgency and have already taken the necessary corrective action which will see recovery actions overnight.
We apologise for the inconvenience caused and no customer will be left out of pocket as a result of this issue.

Customers are expected to be returned to their normal position by tomorrow morning.

Emergency cash of up to €500 is available to customers in branch or via telephone with the correct ID.

When asked about branches staying open later for customers this evening so they can access cash, the bank said they would close at normal times.

Any debits due to be paid today will be made once the issue is resolved.

Sinn Féin’s Pearse Doherty criticised the bank and referenced another serious glitch in Ulster Bank’s system in 2012, which left some customers without access to their funds for weeks.

Today’s issue is not connected to the 2012 system issue.

A fine of €5 million was imposed by the Central Bank in 2014 for this IT failure, later reduced to €3.5 million as the bank had admitted liability.

The Oireachtas Finance Committee has confirmed it will ask Ulster Bank to appear before its members next week to explain what happened.

The Central Bank also said it is aware of the issue involving the bank accounts of certain Ulster Bank customers.

“The Central Bank is monitoring the situation and is in contact with the firm in relation to this matter.

“Customers have a legitimate expectation of high quality, uninterrupted services, whether provided through traditional or online channels. The Central Bank expects all firms to have adequate systems and controls in place and where issues that impact customers arise they should be addressed and rectified urgently, particularly as customers are increasingly using and becoming dependent on online and mobile banking services.

“In this regard, the Central Bank expects firms to communicate clearly and promptly with affected customers when a technical incident occurs, including details of the impacted service, details of alternative access to services and an undertaking that identifiable loss will be remediated. Our expectations have been communicated to banks.”

Speaking earlier today, Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe said it is “a very concerning development for any customer of any bank in the state to be worried about where there money has gone”.

When asked about the possibility of a fine in relation to this incident, he said: “That would be a questions for the Central Bank to answer, we are at a very early stage of inquiry as to what has happened here.”

“It is a real worry for anybody, to be sure about the amount of money you have in your bank account, check your phone, use your ATM, use your debit card and find out your money is not there it can be a real worry to people, and cause a lot of panic for people and this is why it is really important that Ulster Bank give the assurances to people, which they have given, which I understand that no one will be out of pocket in relation to it and then the central bank to investigate what has transpired here, as they have done in the past.”

Customers have been advised they can call Ulster Bank or visit a branch if they need access to funds. They are asking affected customers to call 1850 424 365 (from abroad 00353 1 8047475) minicom – 0800 015 4422.

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