Union First Market Bank glitches enter 3rd day

By Andy Jenks - bio | email
Posted by Terry Alexander - email

CHESTERFIELD, VA (WWBT) - Problems with a local bank merger are now in their third day. While the new Union First Market Bank reports progress, some customers are finding it difficult to go about their daily lives.

Natalie Blake of Chesterfield is living with Lou Gehrig's disease. Gone, is the use of her legs. And she knows her hands won't be far behind.

"Well, it causes severe problems. I'm left handed. I can't write anymore," Blake said.

But she still has bills to pay, especially insurance premiums. And because she can't leave the house, or write a check, Natalie does all of that, online.

"So I depend on my computer as, more or less, my lifeline to many things," Blake said.

Natalie's story is among the more extreme examples of problems caused by the merger of Union and First Market banks. For some people, online banking suddenly stopped working three days ago. Other customers logged on, and saw the account information of total strangers. Company executives turned off the service until they could get it fixed.

"You can't practice bringing over the Internet banking pieces until you're live. We thought we had a good process, but no good process is gonna overcome bad data files," said G. William Beale, CEO of Union First Market Bank.

Adding to the frustration, the bank's customer service lines were crashed. If you dialed the number, you likely got a busy signal or a recording that said "all lines are busy." The good news is, after three days, most of the problems are now fixed.

"They can access their accounts. Their money came over properly. Their money is in their accounts, it's safe," Beale said.

While Natalie is thankful for the efforts - she's not ready to trust the new system, just yet.

"This far, my hand is on the trigger, but I'm afraid to use it at the moment, I'd like to give it another day in case there are kinks," she said.

According to the bank's CEO, online bill pay is now working again. And, of the 90,000 First Market accounts that came over in the merger, less than 1,000 may have had their data compromised. The bank is offering free identity protection and fraud alerts to those people.

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