The Wells Fargo outage was caused by an 'automatic power shutdown' at its data center after smoke was detected. Here's what we know

  • Smoke detected at a Wells Fargo facility on Thursday caused the shutdown of a data center that led to a large-scale outage, leaving customers without the use of their debit cards or access to online banking.
  • A Wells Fargo spokesperson did not comment on whether the incident was connected to its data center in Minnesota, where a fire suppression system was accidentally tripped early Thursday morning.
  • CNBC first reported the incident, but later said the fire department found no evidence of a fire.
  • This is not the first time the San Francisco-based bank has experienced a shutdown this sprawling.

Smoke detected at one of Wells Fargo’s main data center facilities caused a large-scale outage Thursday that left customers without access to online banking or working debit cards. The outage continued into Friday, the company said, though some of its ATM services have been restored and branches are operational.

Customers complained that direct deposit paychecks were not reflected in their account and representatives were overwhelmed with requests that caused 2-hour wait times.

This is not the first time the San Francisco-based bank has seen a shutdown so sprawling – in fact, this is the second time customers experienced loss of access to banking services just this week.

A Wells Fargo spokesperson declined to specify how many people have been impacted and which facility smoke was detected in, instead offered the following statement:

“The system issues were caused by an automatic power shutdown at one of Wells Fargo’s main data-center facilities, triggered by a smoke condition created by routine maintenance activities in the building. In response to the power shutdown, applications were systematically re-routed to back-up data centres throughout the day yesterday. By end-of-day, most critical systems had been recovered, and Wells Fargo continues to restore services across all business and operational areas. Wells Fargo continues to see high call volume and online and mobile traffic. Team members are aggressively working to resolve customer issues. Any Wells Fargo fees incurred as a result of these issues will be reversed.”

CNBC reported Thursday that the fire department was deployed to a data center operated by Wells Fargo in Minnesota where a fire suppression system (typically ceiling water sprinklers) was accidentally tripped. Though, later, no evidence of a fire was found. Whether or not this is the incident that caused the outage is not known nor addressed in any of the press releases or statements Wells Fargo has made in the last 24 hours.

In a tweet, Wells Fargo assured customers that the outage was not the result of “any cybersecurity event.”

The bank then apologised to customers for any inconvenience caused by the system issues, and said it would reverse any Wells Fargo fees incurred. When customers will see accurate banking statements is also unknown.

Wells Fargo will extend its branches’ operating hours at all 5,500 locations one hour Friday and Saturday, according to a press release, to “address any concerns.”

Some customers who have been unable to access their Wells Fargo accounts have threatened to find a new bank and took to social media to express frustration. Online banking features like credit card and mortgage balances are still unavailable, the company said in a statement Friday morning.

Wells Fargo is the third-largest bank in America.

The second outage in 7 days

Earlier this week, on Feb. 1, Wells Fargo took to Twitter to apologise to customers experiencing problems with its online banking and mobile app. The bank said it would research the issue, though did not explain what caused it.

The latest outage has customers wondering: How can something as small as smoke in one isolated location cause a shutdown of banking services of a corporation that does business globally?

CBS reports that last December, Wells Fargo blamed a computer glitch for an error affecting an estimated 545 customers who lost their homes. It then filed papers with the Securities and Exchange Commission, revealing it incorrectly denied 870 loan modification requests where over 60% of homeowners went into foreclosure.

But this sort of small incident is not an issue that has only impacted Wells Fargo. A similar outage at Bank of America happened in 2017, where customers were reportedly in the same situation thousands of Wells Fargo customers experienced Thursday – unable to access their accounts through the bank’s website or apps.

Business Insider Emails & Alerts

Site highlights each day to your inbox.

Follow Business Insider Australia on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.