Bank of America’s (NYSE:BAC) website temporarily lost functionality Friday morning, just a day after the nation’s largest bank revealed plans to levy a $5 fee on customers using debit cards.
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However, the Charlotte-based bank denied the issued had anything to do with hackers angry about its new debit-card fees and the site appeared to be working for at least some customers by late morning.
“Bankofamerica.com is experiencing some access issues and some customers are unable to bank online. It's not 100% down," said Tara Burke, a BofA spokeswoman.
Burke said she was unsure when the site would begin to fully function. In the mean time, she directed customers to use BofA's mobile banking centers and ATMs.
Beginning at about 9:15 a.m. ET, visitors to BofA's homepage were greeted by a message explaining “our pages are temporarily unavailable.” The temporary homepage displayed links allowing BofA and Merrill Lynch customers to log onto their accounts.
Burke said the web issues are not related to BofA’s announcement on Thursday to begin charging a $5 monthly fee for debit-card usage. The new monthly fees, which will begin in 2012, will impact customers who use a debit card to make a purchase, but not at ATMs.
"There is no correlation," Burke said. "This is not the result of hacking or compromised customer information."
Still, the decision to levy new fees is likely to be unpopular with customers and controversial decisions in the financial services world have led hackers to target companies with cyber attacks in the past.
The fee hike drew a rebuke from a high-profile lawmaker on Thursday.
“Bank of America is trying to find new ways to pad their profits by sticking it to its customers,” Sen. Dick Durbin, a Democrat from Illinois, said in a statement. “It's overt, unfair, and I hope their customers have the final say."
But BofA isn’t alone in attempting to recover revenue lost tied to tighter regulations found in the Dodd-Frank financial rules overhaul. JPMorgan Chase (NYSE:JPM) and Wells Fargo (NYSE:WFC) have also experimented with fees and Regions Financial (NYSE:RF) announced a similar debit-card fee recently.
Shares of BofA slumped 2.05% to $6.22 Friday morning, outpacing a 1.59% decline in the SPDR financial sector ETF.