E*Trade outage blocks users from online trading for hours


A system outage at E*Trade Financial Corp. prevented customers from accessing their trading accounts by the Internet or by cell phone for hours on Wednesday. The malfunction, which reportedly began around 10:30 a.m., persisted through the release of Federal Reserve policy meeting minutes at 2 p.m.

The problems affected both the E*Trade website and mobile trading apps. Phone trading was unaffected by the technological glitch, but customers reported long waits to speak to customer service.

Customers turned to Twitter to express frustration and voice fears that their accounts might have been hacked. The company used the social network to acknowledge the problem, posting the following tweet shortly after 1 p.m.: "We know you may be having difficulty accessing etrade. We are working to quickly restore full access and apologize for the inconvenience."

At 3 p.m. the company posted a follow up tweet announcing that the issue had been resolved: "We have fully restored access to http://etrade.com. Please contact us if you have issues—we're here to help."

A spokesman for the company said the cause of the problem has not been determined.

Scottrade, another online broker, also reported an outage on Wednesday, though its downtime was shorter, lasting from 9:40 a.m. to 10:45 a.m.

The financial industry has experienced a series of glitches in the recent past. The most high profile ones have occurred on exchanges, but bank websites have not been immune. The Charles Schwab Corp. had an online glitch in October where incorrect debt prices were posted for about a week. In the U.K., the Royal Bank of Scotland faced a glitch on Cyber Monday that prevented customers from using their debit cards online or elsewhere, putting a wrench in their holiday sales shopping.

For more:
- read the Wall Street Journal article
- read the Moneynews article

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