Retail brokerage customers of HSBC Bank USA were unable to view their account balances or make trades online for the past week after bank staff took down the site to fix technical difficulties.
HSBC technology personnel were "doing some maintenance last weekend and discovered some technical difficulties," said bank spokesman Neil Brazil. So they took the site down "while they ironed out the problems."
"It's purely a maintenance issue," he said. "To err on the side of caution, they just want to take the site down and scrub it out."
Brazil said the number of customers who might have been affected "represents a fractional percentage" of the bank's customer base, and, as of late Friday, the system was "back up and running."
The problem concerned only the online viewing of the bank's retail brokerage accounts, not the accounts themselves. Customers could still get their accurate balance and other information or make trades by going through an investment advisor or the bank's customer service telephone line.
All other bank accounts were unaffected, and the actual balances in the accounts were correct.
This is the second time in recent months that HSBC has had significant computer problems related to its accounts. In August, the bank's core banking computer crashed, wreaking havoc for weeks as the bank struggled to repost customer transactions and catch up on account balances.
This time, however, the problem was tied only to the online display. Brazil said it's not related to any outside hacking or "anything mysterious."