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British bank reports 40,000 suspicious transactions in a single weekend

Tesco Bank has frozen online transactions after being hit by a wave of fraudulent activity over the weekend. The British financial institution was prompted to take action after a total of 40,000 account holders were affected by suspicious transactions.

The bank announced early Monday that money had been taken from 20,000 accounts. The company is working with authorities to determine the source of the breach, and will help customers recoup any financial losses, according to an official statement posted on the Tesco Bank website.

“We apologize for the worry and inconvenience that this has caused for customers, and can only stress that we are taking every step to protect our customers’ accounts,” wrote Benny Higgins, the bank’s chief executive. “That is why, as a precautionary measure, we have taken the decision today to temporarily stop online transactions from current accounts.”

Customers will still be able to use their accounts to carry out cash withdrawals, chip and pin payments, direct debits, and pre-existing bill payments. For the time being, it’s only online transactions that have been deactivated.

Related: New Android banking malware steals your data with the snap of a selfie

While tens of thousands of accounts being affected sounds like a large number, it’s only a very small percentage of the Tesco Bank consumer base as a whole. The bank services some 8 million accounts in total, according to a report from Ars Technica.

For many of these customers, however, the way that Tesco Bank handled the situation has been less than satisfactory. On Monday morning, affected account holders took to social media to complain about not being able to access their funds via the internet.

A situation like this demonstrates just how important it is for banking institutions to shore up their online security. More and more consumers are performing financial transactions via the internet, and that is only going to make these services more attractive to criminals going forward.