What better way to annoy the millions of consumers who rely on online banking? The answer is to take out the websites of the biggest U.S. banks, according to an Islamist group that claimed responsibility for cyberattacks against websites of Bank of America, Chase, Wells Fargo, U.S. Bank and PNC Bank.
In the past week, affected consumers encountered extremely slow loading times when they tried to log in to their online accounts — many were left with a blank page. As more people use the Internet to conduct their banking, they’re inconvenienced when these websites go down.
A tip to online-banking consumers: since these attacks often affect the homepage, you may want to find the dedicated login page for your bank and bookmark it. In the event of a similar cyberattack, you may still be able to log in. (Might be a good idea for the online entrepreneur.)
In other news, mobile-banking innovation continues to thrive:
Bank of America is testing another way of performing mobile payments — using a smartphone to scan a QR code to complete a purchase. It’s one method of mobile payments that doesn’t require NFC technology, which is dependent on hardware. Chase is preparing a new mobile app for Windows Phones — many customers will be glad to use the app for this up-and-coming platform.
Then, there is Apple’s iOS 6, which features the Passbook app. American Express and fraud-detection company BillGuard offered view-only functionality for the new Passbook app. Don’t be surprised to see other ways to manage your money on this app.
Now turning to the sketchier side of the financial industry:
Discover joined Capital One in getting the hammer from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau for deceptive marketing of credit-card add-on services. Even with the $200 million to be refunded to customers, Discover will still sell these services — probably avoiding their questionable tactics from now on.
Speaking of financial companies that are getting in trouble for predatory practices, we took a look at the recent string of big-bank settlements regarding overdraft fees. These megabanks took heat for reordering transactions to maximize overdraft fees and they are returning money to customers who were affected. If you think you’re eligible for a refund, here’s your guide to getting one.
For most bank customers, depositing a check is free. For others, that’s not the case. Without a bank account, non-customers can go to the check-issuing bank to cash the check. But, like many other services, that transaction comes with a fee. Since the bank can verify funds availability for a check they issued, you’d think that there shouldn’t be a fee, but there is. We took a look at the check-cashing costs at some of the biggest banks to see which ones are most lenient for this service.