July 28: a bad day for banks

The Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC) and TD Bank Financial Group were hit with computer glitches in July, causing disruption to customer accounts and online banking systems.

More than 60,000 personal lines of credit accounts at CIBC were affected by a “system error” on July 28 that caused double-dipping. Withdrawals, deposits, money transfers and debit payments were doubled in some of the line of credit accounts. For example, if a customer withdrew $20, it would appear twice on the transaction record, totalling $40.

CIBC said less than one per cent of its customers were affected by this error, apparently the result of what the bank called “a technical change” to its system. The system stopped in the middle of processing personal line of credit transactions, said Rob McLeod, Toronto-based communications director of the bank.

Once the bank discovered a program error, CIBC fixed the problem and reprocessed the transactions. At the time, the bank did not know that many of the transactions had already been processed — which created the duplication effect on customer accounts, McLeod added.

McLeod wasn’t sure about the program error details, but he said everything was fixed and within 24 hours all computer systems responsible for processing customer transactions were operating normally, while the bank worked to reverse erroneous transactions.

Customers affected by the technical error received letters in the mail and the bank reversed charges incurred as a result of the system difficulties.

An unrelated problem with a hard disk stopped many of CIBC’s President’s Choice Financial customers from being able to view their bank balances for several hours. This was quickly fixed, McLeod said, and the hard disk was replaced.

Online issued plagued another bank on July 28. In the evening hours, TD Bank Financial Group’s Web system, EasyWeb, experienced a temporary overload and went offline for several hours. “Customers who logged onto the site got a message saying the service wasn’t available,” said Christa Poole, a spokesperson for TD, speaking on July 29. “Customers’ accounts were not affected.”

TD’s ABMs, however, were affected. Poole said customers at the machines got a “temporarily out of service” message. “The capacity was set for a certain [level of user traffic] based on past trends and in this instance, the capacity was exceeded so the online system temporarily went down,” Poole said. The bank was back up and running within 24 hours. She said it was a one-time occurrence.

Earlier this summer a “processing glitch” at the Royal Bank of Canada discovered during a routine programming update resulted in many client transactions not being reflected in clients’ account balances.

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