Coinbase users slam new customer service phone support: ‘It was a joke’

LOS ANGELES – After hundreds of customer service complaints, Coinbase began a brand new dwell cellphone help line. However quite a few prospects stay annoyed with the corporate after its newest effort to handle their issues.

Take Erick and Molly Richardson, for instance.

The textual content message on Erick’s cellphone alarmed him a lot that he pulled over to the facet of the highway. It was a sunny afternoon in July.

The retired lawyer clicked on the message which stated somebody had logged into his account. He logged on, and shortly received an e mail that his two-factor authentication had been modified, which means his safety settings had doubtless been compromised.

Then the nightmare received worse.

He and his spouse, Molly, had saved practically $1.2 million in cryptocurrencies. Immediately, a fraudster began withdrawing all their bitcoin investments, about $700,000, as Erick watched. And there was nothing he may do.

“I used to be panicked. It was that feeling I have never had in a very long time,” Erick stated, acknowledging the textual content message was doubtless a phishing assault to acquire his account info.

Coinbase prospects Erick and Molly Richardson misplaced about $700,000 in cryptocurrencies when their account was taken over by a fraudster.

Supply: CNBC

The Richardsons couldn’t name Coinbase for assist as a result of when the account takeover occurred in July, the corporate solely supplied e mail help. A CNBC investigation in August discovered hundreds of shoppers’ accounts had been hacked they usually had been left hanging by the corporate, in line with authorities information and interviews. Coinbase, which went public in April, has a market cap of greater than $50 billion.

Since 2016, customers have filed greater than 12,000 complaints towards Coinbase with the Federal Commerce Fee, Shopper Monetary Safety Bureau and the Higher Enterprise Bureau, principally associated to customer support, in line with public information. An extra 1,500 complaints have been filed since August.

Different cryptocurrency exchanges have confronted related complaints, however much less quite a few than the complaints for Coinbase, which is the most important trade within the U.S.

Coinbase, responding to criticism that prospects could not speak to anybody on the firm, arrange the dwell help line in August. Nevertheless, dozens of shoppers whose accounts had been hacked and drained informed CNBC the so-called assist did not consequence of their drawback getting resolved.

Within the Richardsons’ case, Erick stated it took solely about 20 minutes for the fraudsters to withdraw 21 Bitcoin in 110 totally different transactions.

Erick reported the theft to Coinbase, which locked the account. However he stated for greater than two months, nobody reached out to assist the couple get their a reimbursement or unlock the account.

“I nonetheless do not know the way it occurred,” he stated.

In September, the Richardsons referred to as the brand new Coinbase cellphone help line. The agent informed Erick that he did not have entry to the case file and steered he reply to the final e mail from Coinbase, which he had already answered. The ten-minute name ended not with a decision, however with extra frustration.

“It was a joke; it simply makes me somewhat extra offended. And there is no one who has any decision-making energy at customer support,” Erick stated. “They only can not help out loads. what Coinbase did two days after I received hacked? They despatched me a buyer survey they usually requested me to charge their service.”

Coinbase prospects across the nation informed related tales to CNBC because the dwell cellphone help started.

For instance, buyer Marc Boulos stated in an e mail that “the dwell help is just for accounts which might be actively locked; since my account is now not locked, I can not even attain dwell help even when I attempt to take action.”

“The system acknowledges that the account related to my cellphone quantity is just not locked and would not let me attain dwell help,” Boulos wrote.

One other buyer, Don Pirtle, referred to as the cellphone line “a joke.”

And after unsuccessfully making an attempt to revive entry to his account, buyer Conrad Yiu stated, “It looks as if they’ve failed in each single half.”

A Coinbase spokesperson stated in a press release that the corporate will ship “international cellphone help for all prospects, and dwell messaging by finish of 12 months. Our aim is to be probably the most trusted and simple to make use of platform within the crypto economic system, however we acknowledge the challenges a few of our prospects have skilled with their Coinbase accounts. Enhancing our buyer expertise continues to stay a high precedence.”

“Usually, Coinbase doesn’t cowl any losses ensuing from unauthorized entry to Coinbase accounts resulting from a breach,” which is usually a phishing assault, the assertion stated.

Earlier this month, in a notice to Coinbase prospects, the corporate disclosed that funds had been stolen from about 6,000 prospects in a phishing assault that occurred from March to Might 20. The hackers took “benefit of a flaw in Coinbase’s SMS Account Restoration course of with the intention to obtain an SMS two-factor authentication token and achieve entry to your account.”

An organization spokesperson stated: “We instantly fastened the flaw and have labored with these prospects to regain management of their accounts and reimburse them for the funds they misplaced. These large-scale, refined phishing assaults are on the rise, and we strongly advocate anybody that makes use of on-line monetary providers to stay vigilant and take the mandatory steps to guard their on-line id.”

Requested concerning the safety of Coinbase accounts, a spokesperson stated, “Whereas some Coinbase prospects sadly have fallen sufferer to phishing assaults and account takeovers, at no level have attackers breached Coinbase’s safety infrastructure.” 

Consultants say there are alternative routes to retailer cryptocurrency which might be primarily hack-proof.

A transfer that may have helped defend the Richardsons and others is shifting cryptocurrency from an trade, like Coinbase, to what’s generally known as chilly storage, or shifting crypto offline.

“I’ve overwhelmed myself up day by day as a result of I’ve my pals’ voices in my head. ‘Erick, put it on chilly storage.’ And I simply did not,” Erick stated.

Nicole DeCicco, who helps purchasers safe their cryptocurrency by her firm CryptoConsultz, says chilly storage is just about hack-proof. Crypto homeowners get a personal key, which is sort of a password, to retailer that key offline.

“A chilly storage or a chilly pockets is totally disconnected from the web. It’s generally a tool that you just hook up with your laptop,” she stated. “Once you hold your funds in chilly storage, you personal these funds. … They’re offline, away from hackers.”

Nicole DeCicco helps purchasers safe their cryptocurrency by her firm CryptoConsultz.

Supply: CNBC

“I like to inform my purchasers that similar to you may pull cash out together with your ATM card, you possibly can all the time load out of your chilly storage pockets right into a scorching pockets. But when we’re speaking a major sum of money, actually one of the best apply is to maintain it in chilly storage,” she stated.

DeCicco stated establishing trade accounts is simple however establishing chilly storage takes extra work. To arrange chilly storage, many traders purchase a tool for this function. It then must be loaded with a personal key and safely saved, akin to in a vault.

Whereas chilly storage is safer, it has its personal points. House owners can lose passwords, or the gadget can break.

The Richardsons, after extra e mail exchanges with Coinbase, stated entry to their account was ultimately restored. And the corporate did ship them some a reimbursement.

Nevertheless it wasn’t what they anticipated. The corporate put $500 price of Bitcoin of their account.

“It felt like they kicked sand in my face,” Erick Richardson stated. “Is there even anyone senior at Coinbase this? Someone make a calculation and stated, ‘OK, that is what occurred to this man. He misplaced 21 Bitcoin. Let’s give him $500.”

Please e mail tricks to [email protected].

— CNBC’s Angelica Serrano-Roman and Nadine El-Bawab contributed to this report.

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