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Consumer Rights.

Updated: 4 Mar 2021

Online banking and app problems from IT outage - what are my rights?

If you’re stuck not being able to access online banking or your mobile banking app following a computer glitch, we explain steps you can take on the day and how to claim any losses suffered as a result of the outage.
Which?Editorial team

1 Dealing with online banking problems today? Contact your bank

If you’re experiencing online banking or mobile app problems today, see if you can contact your bank to get things resolved.

If you can, go to your local bank branch - especially if you urgently need to access your money.

If you don’t have a local bank branch nearby or transport to get to it, try and call your bank and ask for its guidance on what to do.

For example, will the bank pay for you to take a taxi to the nearest branch today if you don’t have the means to get there? Can the bank perform the service you require over the phone straight away?

If the bank’s phone services are also down or phone lines are busy, try contacting your bank on social media to ask what to do. But don’t ever share your account details over social media.

It’s important to try your best to contact the bank and to get things resolved on the day, as this will show you took all reasonable steps to get things sorted.

But if you have no luck getting in touch with your bank and you’re not able to access your money, start gathering evidence for a complaint.

Make a note of who you speak to, the time and dates of the outages, and keep receipts if you have to travel to the bank - this log will help to support a complaint if you've been left out of pocket.

Key Information

Gather evidence for your claim

You should support your claim for compensation for losses with any evidence you have, such as copies of:  

  • bank, mortgage and credit card statements showing charges resulting from the bank's problems
  • phone bills, bus tickets, petrol or receipts for travel to the bank
  • things such as emails from the time that help show how the situation directly affected you
  • a copy of your credit file if it has been negatively affected by the glitch.

Read our guide for more advice on complaining to your bank.

2 Left out of pocket as a result of the outage? Complain to your bank

Complain to the bank and ask for compensation to cover the losses and ask them to take all steps to put the situation right.

In your complaint, make sure you include:

  • Who you spoke to at the bank during the outage - include when you spoke to them and what they advised you to do
  • The losses you suffered as a result of the outage - include the service you wanted to perform, what happened to you as a result and any financial and emotional distress this caused you
  • What you want the bank to do to put things right - include the amount of compensation you expect and when you expect to be compensated.

Key Information

Has my credit score been affected?

One of the big concerns about banking outages is how it might affect credit scores.

If you miss a bill payment, your credit score could go down. Alternatively, your bank may not report data to credit reference agencies during outages, but this means any steps you’re taking to improve your credit won’t be reflected in your score.

If you find incorrect information or missing data on your credit history, you should first contact the reference agency and ask for it to be corrected. They will liaise with your bank to source the correct information.

Contact the Financial Services Ombudsman (FOS) to complain if the bank does nothing to resolve the problem, as it can tell the bank to correct your credit score.

Contact the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) to complain if the credit reference agency does nothing to resolve the problem.

Our Which? news story on credit scores affected by the TSB online banking glitch in 2018 explains how to check if your credit profile has been hit and what to do if you find your credit rating has plummeted.

You can check your credit score for free, and improve your chances of being accepted for credit with Which? Money.

3 Unhappy with the bank’s response? Go to the FOS

If you’re unhappy with how the bank dealt with your problem, you can contact the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS).

The FOS can usually get involved 15 days after you’ve raised your concerns with the bank – and sometimes even sooner.

The FOS has official powers to help customers solve problems with their banks when people can’t agree.

The FOS will look at the facts, ask questions and make a decision on the fairest course of action.

Read our guide for more information on taking a financial complaint to the FOS.

How does the FOS sort out complaints about IT problems at banks?

The FOS says you can claim for losses you incur in the event of a bank’s IT outage - but the success of any claim will depend on your own individual circumstances.

If the FOS agrees you lost out because of the bank, it can tell the bank to:

  • Reimburse any fees, charges and fines applied to your bank account, where payments were missed or delayed. For example, where wages were paid in late, you may have incurred charges for going overdrawn. Similarly, you might have incurred charges because you missed making a payment to someone else, such as your credit card company, your landlord or your mortgage provider.
  • Pay you any extra ‘out of pocket’ expenses you paid trying to sort things out – like the cost of phone calls, fares and parking charges. This could also include larger costs, like additional legal bills if a house purchase was delayed as a result of glitch in your banks IT systems.
  • Compensate you for other knock-on financial losses caused as a result of delays in payments. This could include lost interest on savings.
  • Correct your credit file if it has been negatively affected as a consequence of the glitch.
  • Compensate you for the trouble, stress or inconvenience you’ve experienced. This is considered in terms of degree of severity. So, if the glitch simply caused annoyance, it’s unlikely you’ll receive compensation.


What can I do if I’ve been scammed following an online banking IT ‘glitch’?

When there’s an online banking problem, fraudsters may pose as the bank, offering help to sort things out - in reality they’re trying to gain access to your account.

Some people have reported fraud on their accounts as a direct result of the IT problems. If you’re worried this has happened to you, take the following steps:

  • 1. Contact the bank as soon as possible
  • 2. Look at your bank’s website to see what they’re saying about fraud and scams
  • 3. Contact Action Fraud
  • 4. Inform the FOS - it can help by looking at how a financial business has acted following the fraud or scam. If it decides the bank did something wrong, it will consider how the bank should put things right.

4 Small claims court

This is a new area of the law, so going to the small claims court should be a last resort.

If you don’t get a good result from the FOS, consider carefully whether the result would be different in the courts and why.

Make sure you seek legal help.

So, how safe is online banking? If this has left you wondering, Which? has rated 12 of the biggest UK banks on the security of their online banking systems.