Home Money NS&I Premium Bonds log-in problems: Is a bizarre ‘time drift’ quirk to blame?

NS&I Premium Bonds log-in problems: Is a bizarre ‘time drift’ quirk to blame?

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Not synced: Hundreds of NS&I customers struggling to log into their NS& accounts may find their devices are not synced

Since National Savings and Investments introduced a new system for logging in to check Premium Bond accounts two years ago, the This is Money mailbox has seen a steady stream of readers contacting us to say they are having trouble logging in .

In the summer of 2022, NS&I integrated two-factor authentication into their account login process – an additional security measure now used by most major financial companies.

Customers receive a one-time access code on their mobile phone to log in.

But in a recent case sent to NS&I and then handed over to a troubleshooter to address the issue, it was claimed to be down to an issue with the time on the customer’s device.

Not synced: Hundreds of NS&I customers struggling to log into their NS& accounts may find their devices are not synced

Not synced: Hundreds of NS&I customers struggling to log into their NS& accounts may find their devices are not synced

One NS&I customer – who we have not named at her request – reported that she had difficulty logging into her NS&I account in the week leading up to this month’s Premium Bonds prize draw.

She told This is Money: ‘I’m at my wits end and have never had any problems – it’s all down to the new 2FA login.

‘I’ve tried updating my browser, logging in from my phone and a laptop, but nothing works.

‘I enter my login details, I get a PIN code, I enter it and I’m back at the beginning.

‘I’m in my early seventies, but technologically savvy. For example, I arrange all my banking affairs online without any problems, but I have no idea what to try next.’

A spokesperson for NS&I says: ‘We noticed that the time on this customer’s laptop was incorrect, after it was updated she was able to log in.

‘There was a looping problem on this customer’s mobile phone and we were able to solve this so that she can also log in via her phone.’

This can happen because two-factor authentication is time-sensitive, so if the time on the device you’re trying to log in with, for example your laptop, and your phone on which you receive the code are out of sync for even 30 seconds, the code won’t be accepted.

When the time on your devices goes out of sync, it is called time drift.

To fix this problem you will need to check the time and date setting on your phone and make sure that it is set to update automatically instead of manually.

Also check your authenticator app settings in the app’s main menu, whether Google or Microsoft, and sync the date and time with your device.

NS&I says on its website that if you have problems logging in with two-factor authentication, you can, among other things, ‘check whether the time and date on your device are correct’.

Weeks after the 2FA system was introduced in 2022, we reported that hundreds of customers no longer had access to their savings accounts with NS&I.

Some customers complained that when they tried to log in online, the system produced a message saying there was a technical problem and they had to start over.

Now it turns out it could be related to a bizarre issue where the time on your devices is out of sync.

More login problems at NS&I

On Monday morning, April 8, there was an error message on the NS&I website: ‘We are aware of an incidental problem with our website while logging in and are working hard to resolve this.

‘Thank you for your patience and sorry for any inconvenience this may cause.’

One This is Money reporter tried to log in this morning – and despite never having encountered a problem before, he couldn’t get in.

Other customers have reported on X that they are having trouble logging in. One user, who has been unable to log in for three days, said: ‘Shocking state. Total waste of time. I’ve been trying to log in to the website for three days.’

Another customer said: ‘I’ve been having trouble logging into the website since Saturday, any idea why?’

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A concerned customer said: This sounds like a big problem NS&I… what is the problem? Have you been hacked? Lost data?’.

This is Money asked NS&I whether the login problem is due to a cyber attack. NS&I did not respond to this, but said the problem was due to a flood of traffic from customers checking Premium Bonds.

An NS&I spokesperson said: ‘We believe this issue is caused by an increase in website traffic and we are working to resolve this.

‘Our website is often busier at the beginning of the month when Premium Bonds customers log in to see if they have won a prize.’

A reader who emailed This is Money claims they have been trying to log in to withdraw Premium Bonds since Saturday morning.

When the customer approached an NS&I consultant they said: ‘He behaved and spoke as if he had no idea there was a location problem at all’.

“It appears that it is taking them an inordinate amount of time to resolve this issue.”

> Are you having problems logging in? E-mail: editor@thisismoney.co.uk

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