BB&T making 'significant progress' in wake of banking services outage

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — Officials with BB&T said significant progress has been made after millions of the bank’s customers were locked out of their accounts Thursday due to an outage that bank officials said had been caused by a "technical issue."

As of Saturday afternoon, BB&T officials said online and mobile banking platforms were again available. Officials said ATMs had also been restored and that automated phone service was back up.

Many customers still may not see the most accurate information reflected on their accounts, and may only see activity through Thursday night, officials said.

On Sunday, officials said they were still working through a few issues with clients and providing them with guidance through secure messages within their U online and mobile banking apps, as well as through client care centers.

LINK: BB&T Outage updates

The banking giant believes an equipment malfunction in one of the company’s data centers is to blame for the country-wide outage.

The interruption of services was first reported Thursday night and continued through Friday.

For days, customers couldn't make deposits and withdrawals remotely, transfer money between accounts or use their mobile apps. Online services, mobile apps and ATMs were all down for customers.

BB&T officials said they want customers to know that if they have been impacted by any fees directly related to this outage, those fees will be waived or reimbursed.

On Friday morning, Channel 9 tried to access a BB&T ATM in uptown Charlotte, but the message “Sorry, this ATM is temporarily offline" was displayed on the screen.

The company's website said many of its other banking services were down as well, including digital banking and Phone24, meaning customers could not pay bills or check their accounts.

During the outage, the bank said, customers were still able to use their debit, credit and prepaid cards at places such as grocery stores and gas stations.

Rhodann Blocker said she tried to check her balance Friday morning to see if her direct deposit had come in, but was unable to do so.

"I'm so frustrated. I tried to check my balance and I couldn't," she said.

BB&T officials told Channel 9 there’s no evidence that the company's system was hacked.

Charles Hall, a BB&T customer, wondered how the services could be down.

"They're too good just to have a computer go down, a server go down,” Hall said. “It's got to be something more than that.”

BB&T Corporate Headquarters in Winston-Salem sent Channel 9 this initial statement:

“Due to an equipment malfunction in one of our data centers, some of BB&Ts banking services have been unavailable since late Thursday afternoon. At this time, we have no reason to believe this issue is related to cybersecurity. We are working diligently to restore all our banking services, and the recovery is well underway.

“Our automated Phone24 service and ATMs are now available. As our systems come back online, please be aware some of the information you will see in your accounts has not yet been fully updated from yesterday. We expect those balances and transactions to become current later today. We'll continue to provide updates as our systems are updated.

“To our clients, we are deeply sorry this has happened. We hear your frustration, and we are committed to making this right. If you've incurred fees directly related to this outage, we will waive or reimburse those fees. We're also here to assist with any other challenges you've experienced.

“To further assist clients in our financial centers, we're extending hours for most of our locations until 7 p.m. local time today to help you with any questions or challenges or concerns. Our financial centers that are normally open on Saturdays will also stay open two additional hours to assist you."

Andrew Besmer, an assistant professor of computer science at Winthrop University, said backup systems should have kicked in and prevented the outage.

Besmer said he’s not satisfied with BB&T’s answer.

"What does that mean? What kind of malfunction? And why does it take so long to replace a piece of equipment?" he said.

Besmer said, for most people, it's just an inconvenience.  He hasn't set foot in his bank since the day he first signed up as a customer.

"Everything is now done electronically. I trust these systems.  It's not like your money's gone,” Besmer said.

BB&T officials responded to thousands of customers who vented their anger at the bank on social media Friday.

Many branches will stay open for an additional two hours Saturday to help customers, officials said.

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