Tesco Bank has restricted the operations of current accounts after funds were looted from a reported 20,000 accounts.
The UK bank has confirmed a fraudulent attack, which is under investigation. In the meantime it has suspended online transactions from current accounts, including contactless transactions. Customer can still withdraw cash and use chip-and-pin transactions. Established standing orders and direct debits will continue as normal.
In a statement on its community portal (extract below), Tesco Bank chief executive Benny Higgins admitted a security breach had resulted in fraud, while reassuring affected customers that they would not be left out of pocket.
Tesco Bank can confirm that over the weekend some customers' current accounts have been subject to online criminal activity, in some cases resulting in money being withdrawn fraudulently.
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. We are working hard to resume normal service on current accounts as soon as possible.
We continue to work with the authorities and regulators to address the fraud and will keep our customers informed through regular updates on our website, twitter and direct communication. 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.
Tesco Bank customers were notified of the breach by emails and text messages. One reader reported receiving a text at 5.40am. Early reports of problems first appeared on threads in general financial forums such as moneysavingexpert.com from Friday onwards.
Tesco manages around 136,000 current accounts. Around 40,000 of these experienced suspicious transactions, and around half of those had some money taken from their accounts.
We had that 20,000 accounts experienced fraud but this info, which came from an interview with Tesco Bank's chief exec Benny Higgins on BBC Radio 4's Today programme this morning, provides a fuller picture.
The root cause of the fraud remains unclear, as does who might be behind it. We will update this story when we hear more. ®