UK bank Tesco Bank has suspended online payments after funds disappeared from 20 thousand accounts, while customers report being offered ‘goodwill gestures’ worth just £25.
Tesco Bank: Accounts Blocked As ‘Precaution’
Tesco Bank, owned by the UK’s largest supermarket chain of the same name, has so far not given details about the thefts, which occurred at the weekend.
In modest news updates on its blog, the bank stated it “had taken steps to protect” what it described as “a small proportion of customers’ current accounts.”
It added however that it had “blocked [some customers’] cards to protect their account” and that this was a “precaution.”
In its latest post today, Tesco Bank chief executive Benny Higgins said that similar “protection” and “precautions” were the basis of its decision to halt online payments.
“We apologise for the worry and inconvenience that this has caused for customers, and can only stress that we are taking every step to protect our customers’ accounts,” he said. “That is why, as a precautionary measure, we have taken the decision today to temporarily stop online transactions from current accounts.”
A Guessing Game
Tesco Bank has not released any information regarding how the funds were stolen, with both customers and industry commentators alike left guessing.
“It could be, for example, that people have been attaching skimming devices, card readers and cameras specifically to Tesco’s cash point machines, so that they’ve been capturing people’s accounts there,” Robert Schifreen, editor of computer security resource Security Smart, told the BBC.
“It could be somebody who works at Tesco Bank who’s had access to the database. It could be somebody else, who Tesco have passed information to, and that information has been hacked.”
So far, it is unclear how much money was stolen in total, but under UK banking rules all those affected must be refunded in full unless the bank can prove that account holders themselves were at fault.
“We can reassure customers that any financial loss as a result of this activity will be resolved fully by Tesco Bank, and we are working to refund accounts that have been subject to fraud as soon as possible,” Higgins added.
A Cheap Consolation Prize
In the aftermath of the thefts, however, customers had little comfort. Support services were overloaded, with those fortunate enough to speak to Tesco Bank being offered compensations such as a £25 “goodwill gesture” for the theft of £600.
The uncertainty and myriad possible explanations for the events are both reminiscent of attacks on fiat systems which have become high profile this year. International settling system SWIFT reported several major cyberattacks during 2016, with weak links identified in the security systems of many of its banking partners worldwide.
What do you think about the Tesco Bank theft? Let us know in the comments section below.
Cover image via Shutterstock.
If you’d like to know more about how Bitcoin can protect your funds, read our User Guide or ask your questions on the Bitcoin.com Forum.