PhotoWells Fargo customers found they couldn’t access their online bank accounts Thursday, nor could they withdraw money from Wells Fargo ATMs.

“We’re experiencing system issues due to a power shutdown at one of our facilities, initiated after smoke was detected following routine maintenance,” the bank said in a brief statement. “We’re working to restore services as soon as possible. We apologize for the inconvenience.”

KULR-TV in Montana reported that a bank employee told the station the outage was caused by a fire at a server farm in Shoreview, Minnesota. The bank has not confirmed a fire was involved.

Whatever the cause, some Wells Fargo customers may have been caught short on cash or blocked from paying a bill just before the deadline. Arielle O'Shea, NerdWallet's banking specialist, says it’s possible some Wells Fargo customers could be facing late fees, interest on missed credit card payments, or may have to go without cash to pay for everyday expenses.

"Unfortunately bank outages have become fairly commonplace – if you haven’t experienced one yourself, you might be in the minority,” O’Shea said in an email to ConsumerAffairs. “To safeguard yourself from these potential situations, it’s a good idea to have an emergency savings account at a separate financial institution to at least help you cover the basics while your account is down.”

Even though customers can’t access their money at the moment, they can rest assured that it’s safe, as long as it’s deposited in an FDIC-insured financial institution.

O’Shea says it’s always a good idea to pay your bills a few days before the due date if you can, just in case your bank suffers a service interruption.

Ready to get out of debt?

Our debt relief matching tool will find the right company for you.


    Share your Comments