Did something seem fishy about your bank account last time you checked it online? Don't remember making that purchase? Or maybe you remember buying something days ago, but the charge still hasn't shown up in your bank account. Maybe your overall balance is lower or higher than you expected.
It is always good to double check your math before raising an issue, but when it comes to online banking, glitches and errors do happen. Here are a few of the most common online banking glitches, along with some ways to catch them quick or avoid them altogether.
Online banking is far from perfect
Like anything in the tech world, online banking is prone to glitches. Banks constantly update their websites, apps, and programs – and that is a good thing. Those little tweaks help the bank stay one step ahead of hackers by closing loopholes and fixing any potential security vulnerabilities, but sometimes those little tweaks can also gum up basic functions. When that happens, you might get hit with an error screen, find a broken link, or wind up back on the home page.
Some common online errors
At the beginning of 2018, two high-profile glitches put the limitations of online banking under a microscope. In one of those glitches, Wells Fargo customers were charged twice for bill payments. That is bad news when it happens to anyone, but what made it even worse was the affected customers had their bill payments set up to process automatically. That means customers wouldn't have known about the errors unless they happened to check their account and compare their statements to their bills. Luckily, the problem was widespread enough to generate nationwide attention, and everyone who was affected found out about the problem. Wells Fargo eventually identified a problem with the autopay's internal processing and pushed out an update that fixed the problem going forward. Customers received an apology and reimbursement.
Capital One customers experienced a similar glitch around the same time. Debit cards processed single purchases multiple times, forcing some customers to overdraft their accounts. Capital One never explicitly said what caused the error. It only clarified that it wasn't the work of hackers. Like those affected by the Wells Fargo glitch, customers were reimbursed, and any overdraft fees were canceled.
Not all errors are so well publicized. Some glitches are isolated to only a couple events, and so it falls on those affected to point out mistakes to whoever's responsible. It is not always the bank's fault. For example, if your direct deposit got delayed it could be a glitch on the part of your employer or whoever your employer uses to complete direct deposits.
Connectivity errors could also be pinned down on several different parties. Your internet could be faulty, in which case you need to contact your internet provider, or the bank's servers might be down, which means you'll have to wait for the bank to fix the problem.
Same with transaction errors; you could have pressed the wrong button, or there could be a glitch with the application that is processing the transaction. Either way, they could result in improper charges to your account, so you will want to keep an eye out for them.
Steps to reduce your vulnerability
You don't have to sit and wait for an error to happen before taking action. There are proactive steps you can take to reduce your vulnerability to these types of glitches and prepare for any that slip through.
First and foremost, keep your technology updated at all times. That means updating the software on your phone if you use mobile banking apps. You should also regularly check for updates to the banking apps themselves. If you do your banking on a computer, keep your operating software and internet browsers updated. Staying updated ensures any known bugs are fixed, along with any security loopholes that hackers could use as an entry point.
You should also take advantage of any account alert services your bank offers. There are lots of variations on alerts, and you can sign up for more than one so you get as many emails, texts or calls as you would like. Alerts are usually designed to help you detect fraudulent activity – a sign that you've likely been hacked – but they work for detecting glitches, too. You can set a low balance alert, so if your balance drops below what you expect you'll get an alert right away. Once you are alerted, check your recent transactions and reach out to the bank if you need to.
The best way to combat online banking errors is also one of the simplest – pay close attention. Work time into your schedule to spend time with your budget, your bills, and your account statements. Compare them all to ensure that everything's lining up as it should. Budgeting can also help you keep an emergency fund safe, so if you are ever hit with an online banking glitch that costs you, you can absorb the cost until the bank reimburses you for the error.
Notice a glitch in your account?
If you noticed any glitches, it is important to reach out your bank as soon as possible. Once you make contact with a bank representative, be honest and polite. They have the ability to set things right with your account, so you are not doing yourself any favors by being snarky or impatient. Clearly state what is wrong with your account, when you noticed it, and what you want the bank to do now.
If you are wrapped up in a widespread glitch, contacting the bank could include long waits on the phone, but stick with it! Once you get through, bank reps should be able to quickly determine whether you're included in a common error, and, if so, they can usually put the money back in your account right away.