Coinbase users slam new customer service phone support

LOS ANGELES – After 1000’s of customer service complaints, Coinbase began a brand new dwell telephone assist line. However quite a few clients stay annoyed with the corporate after its newest effort to deal with their issues.

Take Erick and Molly Richardson, for instance.

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

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

Then the nightmare obtained worse.

He and his spouse, Molly, had saved almost $1.1 million in cryptocurrencies. Immediately, a fraudster began withdrawing all their bitcoin investments, about $700,000, as Erick watched. And there was nothing he might do.

“I used to be panicked. It was that feeling I have not had in a very long time,” Erick stated, acknowledging the textual content message was seemingly a phishing assault to acquire his account info.

Coinbase clients 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 assist. A CNBC investigation in August discovered 1000’s of consumers’ accounts had been hacked they usually had been left hanging by the corporate, in line with authorities data 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 in opposition to Coinbase with the Federal Commerce Fee, Shopper Monetary Safety Bureau and the Higher Enterprise Bureau, largely associated to customer support, in line with public data. An extra 1,500 complaints have been filed since August.

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

Coinbase, responding to criticism that clients could not discuss to anybody on the firm, arrange the dwell assist line in August. Nonetheless, dozens of consumers whose accounts had been hacked and drained informed CNBC the so-called assist did not end result of their downside 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 refund or unlock the account.

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

In September, the Richardsons known as the brand new Coinbase telephone assist 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 a bit extra offended. And there is no person who has any decision-making energy at customer support,” Erick stated. “They only can not help out rather a lot. You already know what Coinbase did two days after I obtained hacked? They despatched me a buyer survey they usually requested me to price their service.”

Coinbase clients across the nation informed comparable tales to CNBC for the reason that dwell telephone assist started.

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

“The system acknowledges that the account related to my telephone quantity shouldn’t be locked and does not let me attain dwell assist,” Boulos wrote.

One other buyer, Don Pirtle, known as the telephone line “a joke.”

And after unsuccessfully attempting to revive entry to his account, buyer Conrad Yiu stated, “It looks like they’ve failed in each single half.”

A Coinbase spokesperson stated in a press release that the corporate will ship “international telephone assist for all clients, and dwell messaging by finish of yr. Our purpose is to be essentially the most trusted and simple to make use of platform within the crypto financial system, however we acknowledge the challenges a few of our clients have skilled with their Coinbase accounts. Bettering our buyer expertise continues to stay a prime precedence.”

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

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

An organization spokesperson stated: “We instantly mounted the flaw and have labored with these clients 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 companies to stay vigilant and take the required steps to guard their on-line id.”

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

Consultants say there are other ways to retailer cryptocurrency which are primarily hack-proof.

A transfer that may have helped shield the Richardsons and others is transferring cryptocurrency from an change, like Coinbase, to what’s often called chilly storage, or transferring crypto offline.

“I’ve crushed myself up on daily basis 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 house owners 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 typically a tool that you just connect with your pc,” she stated. “While you maintain 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 identical to you may pull cash out along with your ATM card, you may at all times load out of your chilly storage pockets right into a sizzling pockets. But when we’re speaking a major sum of money, actually the most effective observe is to maintain it in chilly storage,” she stated.

DeCicco stated organising change accounts is straightforward however organising chilly storage takes extra work. To arrange chilly storage, many buyers 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 machine can break.

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

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 taking a look at this? Someone make a calculation and stated, ‘OK, that is what occurred to this man. He misplaced 21 bitcoin. Let’s give him $500.”

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— CNBC’s Angelica Serrano-Roman and Nadine El-Bawab contributed to this report. | Coinbase customers slam new customer support telephone assist


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