What to Do If ATMs, Online Banking Goes Dark


NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Banks have aggressively pushed their customers to online automated banking, even charging more for paper statements. Automated payments and online banking work well and are convenient, as long as banks can assure customers their money is safe and accounts secure.

If the system goes awry, though, it can cause significant problems for consumers.

Last week, the Chase online banking system had a service outage and was down for three days, leaving 16 million customers without access to their accounts.

A three-day service outage at Chase left 16 million customers without access to their accounts last week.
An outage of this size is uncommon, but it is a good reminder for all of us to have a backup plan, to keep a personal record of account information. A lost credit card or a stolen wallet can be just as damaging if you don't have a record of all bills set up for automatic payment.

Many consumers use credit and debit cards for automatic bill payments -- a system that typically runs smoothly and on schedule but makes it easy to forget about the merchants and bills you are paying. If you must replace a card or an account number is changed, these bills aren't automatically transferred. It is up to you to contact each merchant and vendor immediately with the new card information to avoid interruption. Keep a record of the name and phone number for every person, business, bill or loan paid with an online payment.

A late notice, accumulating fines or terminated service may be your first notification a bill wasn't paid. Missed payments can cost much more than a late fee; these problems can hurt your credit score.

Making a record of accounts to pay is a small hassle, but there may be a time you are glad you did. Scrambling to fix it after you are delinquent on the payment is too late.

For Chase customers, several days without account access was an anxious time for those with bills to pay. Even though Chase will refund late fees incurred during the delay, the bank cannot repair credit scores that drop after late payments.

It is also possible account information got corrupted. Chase customers should look carefully at their account for lost transactions, incorrect account balances, missed deposits and missed payments.

For more tips on avoiding ATM fees, check out this MainStreet article.

—For the best rates on loans, bank accounts and credit cards, enter your ZIP code at BankingMyWay.com.


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