Dublin-based credit union halts operations due to ‘serious security incident' (2024)

Close to half a million customers of a Dublin-based credit union are left unable to access their money due to a “serious security incident" Sunday.

Patelco Credit Union, which has locations across the state, told customers it had to shut down “some of our day-to-day banking systems” due to the incident.

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“We are writing to let you know that on June 29, we experienced a serious security incident. This required us to shut down some of our day-to-day banking systems so that we can remediate the issue and contain the impact, including online banking, our mobile App, and our call center,” Erin Mendez, Patelco’s president and CEO, wrote in an email to consumers. “Currently, electronic transactions such as transfers (including Zelle), direct deposit, balance inquiries, and payments are unavailable.”

Patelco Credit Union, which has locations across the state, told customers it had to shut down “some of our day-to-day banking systems” due to a serious incident. Alyssa Goard reports.

According to Mendez, the credit union has been working with cybersecurity teams since Saturday to resolve the issue and restore online services. However, it is unclear when the problem will be resolved.

The company originally told customers about the outage Saturday morning.

NBC Bay Area did not receive immediate comment from Patelco on Sunday.

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Thank you for your patience and understanding as we navigate the serious security incident from yesterday.

This required us to shut down some of our day-to-day banking systems so that we can remediate the issue and contain the impact including online banking, our Mobile App, and…

— Patelco Credit Union (@PatelcoPays) June 30, 2024

Patelco has 33 branches in the Bay Area and said they would be open Monday and “ready to assist as much as they can during our regular business hours.”

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The company took to X, formerly Twitter, to tell customers they can access cash withdrawals and deposits at specific ATMs within the credit union’s Co-Op network. According to the company, there are over “30,000 shared branch ATMs in the US.”

At Patelco's headquarters on Sunday, many customers drove up to visit the ATMs there in hopes of finding clarity. Customers found they were able to withdraw cash from those ATMs, however, they were unable to check their account balances or make transfers.

Erykah Phillips of Antioch said earlier in the weekend she realized something was wrong when she could not receive payment for her business. She couldn't access her account information online or over the Patelco customer service phone line.

"It just said ‘We're experiencing technical difficulties’ and it hung up, that was it," Phillips said.

Phillips was disappointed that it took until Sunday afternoon for the company to send her an email explaining the issue. She is still unable to make the transfer she needs into her account.

"As a customer, I came over to a credit union because I had so much difficulty with the mainstream banks, but now that I’m having trouble with the Patelco [Credit Union] I am considering going to a major bank, I just don’t know which one I want to go to," Phillips said.

Many who use the credit union took to social media to express their concerns. Some said it could potentially impact their pay, rent, and mortgage payments, and that they needed to access their money.

"[I'm] hoping tomorrow is going to be payday, but now I’m not sure if I will be able to access that or see if it comes in," said Mike Corpos of San Carlos.

Corpos, who said he's had an account with Patelco for close to a decade, said he is hoping his money is still in his account.

"I think that’s a lot of people’s concern, looking at the Twitter feed is: 'Is our money safe?'" Corpos continued.

Brian Samoulides of Walnut Creek told NBC Bay Area he is concerned about whether his mortgage payment will go through.

"There was no communication until this afternoon when the CEO sent this super non-committal email," Samoulides said. "Tomorrow morning, I have the task of calling my mortgage company and asking them for other ways I can pay them."

The online chorus of concerns has asked the credit union to be more transparent about what is happening. Some users said they fear Patelco systems were hacked.

"It would be nice to have more transparency. If you got cyber attacked just come out and say you got cyber attacked," Samoulides said.

Patelco customer Brendan Bartholomew of Pacifica noted, "It's somewhat anxiety-producing to not be able to check and make sure payments have gone through."

"This is really an example of how vulnerable our infrastructure is or can be," he continued.

Patelco said around 8:20 p.m. Sunday, that is it "still working to resolve the outage."

Additionally, it told its customers that representatives will be available to answer questions during normal business hours but will not be able to provide specific account information.

"Currently electronic transactions such as transfers, payments, balance inquiries, payments are unavailable," Patelco said on X. "Patelco branches, call center and Live Chat will be open and ready to assist as much as they can during our regular business hours starting tomorrow, Monday July 1. We anticipate longer than normal wait times and truly appreciate your patience."

Update: Our teams are still working to resolve the outage. Currently electronic transactions such as transfers, payments, balance inquiries, payments are unavailable. Patelco branches, call center and Live Chat will be open and ready to assist as much as they can during our…

— Patelco Credit Union (@PatelcoPays) July 1, 2024

San Jose State Engineering Professor Ahmed Banafa, whose research focuses on cyber security, said that it is significant that the company is identifying what happened as a "serious security incident" and that online systems remain unavailable.

"Which tells me that somebody is actually inside their network and crippled their ability," Banafa said.

"So what [Patelco has] done is like unplugging -- it's like unplugging the computer --they are unplugging the network and trying to see how to deal with it," he continued.

Banafa said that the extent of the damage to Patelco from this incident should be clearer in the coming days. In the meantime, he recommends to customers: "make sure you monitor all your financial activities, change your passwords."

The credit union currently has $9 billion in assets under management and is considered one of the oldest and largest in the state, according to the company.

Dublin-based credit union halts operations due to ‘serious security incident' (2024)
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