California Coast Credit Union boasts 26 branches and 60 shared branch locations. Image via

San Diego-based California Coast Credit Union apologized Thursday to its more than 200,000 members after “multiple services” were disrupted for at least five hours Wednesday.

Cal Coast email to members sent Thursday afternoon (PDF)

“The ones impacting members the most were mobile and online banking, branch systems and debit cards,” said Robert Scheid, director of community and public relations. “Rest assured all member data is secure.”

Scheid told Times of San Diego that a power issue with the bank’s third-party hosting service caused what he called a disruption starting at 11:40 a.m. He said the “vast majority” of members could access their accounts online by 4:45 p.m.

He said Cal Coast, for security reasons, couldn’t provide the name of the hosting service .

Branches remained open all day to help members in-person, including those who reported issues with mobile banking, he said.

“We communicated [with members] via Instagram and Facebook,” Scheid said via email. “If they contacted us directly (privately), we responded directly (privately). If they contacted us publicly, we responded publicly.”

Scheid said a note was posted on the homepage at 1 p.m. Wednesday — where the sign-in box is — saying online banking was temporarily unavailable. A staggered set of emails went out Thursday to 180,000-plus members, he said in a phone interview.

“The immediate response is to resolve the issue, and to get operations back to normal for our members,” he said. “We want to assess what happened … and how to avoid it going forward.”

By social media standards, Cal Coast responded very quickly, he said.

“Most of our inquiries were really in person at the branches. Frankly, we didn’t have a lot of inquiries on social media — under a dozen.” 

Crisis-communications expert Gayle Lynn Falkenthal said Scheid’s description seemed a reasonable response in real time to a minor business disruption.

“Given it occurred during business hours with credit union personnel able to facilitate workarounds for the majority of customers, I would not put this into the category of a ‘crisis,’” said Falkenthal, who worked with Cal Coast in her role with the East County and La Mesa chambers of commerce on the La Mesa Disaster Relief Fund effort assisting businesses impacted by the civil unrest in May 2020.

Todd Lane, the credit union’s president and CEO, said in a year-end note to members last December that Cal Coast, founded by educators in 1929, had more than $3.4 billion in assets.

“As San Diego’s longest-serving credit union, we have continued to engage with the community by supporting organizations that help improve the lives of others,” he said. “We hold true to our commitment to supporting youth, education and the health and well-being of people and animals in our community.”

In his email, Cal Coast spokesman Scheid said: “As with many companies, including financial institutions, we have had minor system issues before, but never anything quite like this.”

Updated at 5:37 p.m. April 14, 2022