Bank of Ireland outage sees customers queue for 'free' cash – or maybe any cash

Reports police called to control ATM frenzy after €1,000 added to accounts, by leprechauns maybe

Queues have formed at automatic teller machines in Ireland after a local bank allowed withdrawals of sums greater than their account balances, and possibly even mistakenly gave away free cash.

The incident appears to have started life as an outage that Bank of Ireland acknowledged late on Tuesday night in social media posts that advised "We are aware that customers using our mobile app and 365Online are currently experiencing difficulties." The bank apologized and promised to fix things ASAP and keep customers informed.

Plenty of those customers were soon queueing at ATMs because – as reported in The Irish Times and The Irish Independent and many other sources – the cash machines happily emitted more cash than was held in accounts.

The Times has also reported that €1,000 appeared in some accounts, without explanation. Which may be one reason reports suggest Gardaí (police) were even called as crowds at cash machines became heated when they ran out of bills.

It is of course completely plausible that customers unable to access their banking app, or online services, just wanted to make sure they had some cash to hand. Because nobody would ever try to cash in on a bank error, right?

The Bank delivered on its promise to keep customers up to date with a killjoy warning to the effect that "We would like to remind customers if transferring/withdrawing funds – including over normal limits – this money will be debited from their account. We are conscious customers may not be able to check balances, but should not withdraw/transfer if they are likely to become overdrawn."

The Bank sent The Register a statement about the incident that opened: "Yesterday a technical issue impacted a number of Bank of Ireland's services. Our teams restored these services overnight and all services are available to customers this morning."

The statement continued: "We are aware that the technical issue meant some customers were able to withdraw or transfer funds above their normal limits. These transfers and withdrawals will be applied to customers' accounts today. We urge any customer who may find themselves in financial difficulty due to overdrawing on their account to contact us.

"We sincerely apologize for the disruption this outage caused – we know we fell far below the standards our customers expect from us," the statement concluded.

The Bank did not, however, confirm or deny the reports of €1,000 deposits. ®

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