Patelco Data Breach Locks Out 500,000 Members from Accounts

Written by Mitchell Langley

July 3, 2024

Patelco Data Breach Locks Out 500,000 Members from Accounts

Dublin-based credit union faces major ransomware attack, locks out half a million members.

Dublin, CA – In a massive breach that has left hundreds of thousands of customers locked out of their accounts, Patelco Credit Union fell victim to a ransomware attack over the weekend.

The Patelco data breach forced Patelco to shut down key systems like online banking and mobile apps on Saturday, preventing more than 500,000 members from accessing their accounts.

In an email to customers, Patelco President and CEO Erin Mendez said the “serious security issue” meant banking systems had to be taken offline “so that we can remediate the issue and contain the impact.”

Members who tried to check their balances online or use ATMs were met with error messages, leaving their financial matters in limbo. The credit union’s call centers and chat functionality were also offline, limiting their ability to help anxious customers.

Some members like San Jose resident Julie Brusca first realized something was wrong when trying to check her account early on Saturday morning. With no access online and unable to get help from Patelco, customers’ concerns grew over the weekend as the attack dragged on without a clear resolution.

“Is my money safe?” questioned Patelco member Lucy Flores, who spoke to the Bay Area News Group outside a Berkeley ATM on Monday. “If you’ve got direct debit for your rent or something, you’re screwed.”

In an updated statement on Monday, Patelco confirmed it was dealing with a “ransomware attack” and brought in outside cybersecurity experts to investigate. The 500,000-member credit union, which has branches across the South Bay, said resolving the breach was the “top priority.”

But by Monday evening, most customers were still in the dark about their accounts while Patelco worked frantically to recover systems. The timing could not have been worse for members expecting payments or dealing with automatic debits as bills came due.

Brusca called the situation “really bad timing,” especially with a bank holiday coming this weekend.

“If they don’t fix this by the end of the week their reputation is just going to go down the tube because you can’t just keep people from their money for a whole week,” she said.

The Patelco data breach serves as a stark reminder of the risks of modern ransomware attacks for financial institutions and customers alike.

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