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Computer glitch hits M&T Bank Problem prevented transactions from being credited to accounts

A computer glitch nearly wreaked havoc across the entire retail network of M&T Bank Corp. Friday, preventing deposits and withdrawals from being credited to accounts, but bank officials said they had fixed the problem by the end of the day.

The unusual computer snafu blocked the bank from updating customer accounts with any transactions that occurred after the close of business Thursday evening, said spokesman C. Michael Zabel. That meant that when customers looked up their account balances Friday online, at an ATM or in a branch, they saw the same balances from the day before.

The problem affected the bank's entire seven-state market area, including all customers and all employees. M&T operates 667 branches in New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Maryland, Delaware, Virginia and West Virginia, as well as the District of Columbia.

As a result, the bank's branch and telephone customer service staff spent much of the day working with customers "to try and minimize any inconvenience wherever we've been able to," Zabel said.

In particular, the bank "took steps" to make money available to customers who normally have payroll checks direct-deposited and posted to their accounts on Friday.

"It's very easy for us to see a customer who has a payroll check come into an account every week and or two weeks," Zabel said.

Zabel said the problem was just a computer error, not the result of a virus or intentional computer hacking. Other glitches have occurred in the past, but he said nothing "that has had a similar impact."

However, no transactions were lost, and Zabel said the bank didn't expect to have bounced checks because neither withdrawals nor deposits were posted.

By mid-afternoon, bank staff had identified the problem and fixed it. Officials then restarted the process of updating accounts.

"The system . . . got hung up last night, and the process is now working its way through the system," Zabel explained. "The process is nearing the completion of the run."

e-mail: jepstein@buffnews.com

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