Until Tuesday, MyBudget was posting all its updates on the situation on a single page. Today (Wednesday), links to all those updates have disappeared with only a link to the "latest update" remaining.
The company offers two ways of making contact: a 1300 number and a Web page where one can chat to its staff. The problem is that anyone who wants to make contact in either of these ways should be prepared for a lengthy wait. iTWire got on the chat channel on Tuesday but gave up after waiting for some time.
MyBudget's customers appear to be from the less wealthy sections of the Australian populace, given that they approach the company when they have financial troubles. For people who are in this situation to be unable to know what has happened to their money is particularly cruel.
This whole debacle is more about trust than anything else. I've been with Mybudget for almost a decade and paid them around 20k for services in that time. With approx 110,000 customers who pay 40 per week how is that 4.4m per week not preventing this?— Shelds C (@sheldonchristi5) May 18, 2020
To this a company representative, Erica, replied: "Hi Sheldon, MyBudget has helped more than 110,000 clients since the company started in 1999. This number includes past and current clients. Thanks, Erica."
Which is not to say that MyBudget does not make a tidy pile; the company charges $1100 as an establishment fee when someone sets up an account. One then pays anything from $40 upwards per week for the firm to manage their money and provide "caring money management, a structure and support to ensure you have enough money to pay your bills on time, have savings in the bank and live the debt-free, stress-free life you desire”.
As to the confusing messages sent out, MyBudget says on a page that is devoted to the malware incident that took its systems down, "At present, the investigation is still ongoing, and there is no credible evidence that significant data was accessed or will be misused."
But the very next line says, "However we can't rule this out and are taking all cautionary measures." In other words, "I have your data safe but I can't guarantee that it's not been stolen."
Again, the company says it is working with "leading experts, government agencies and law enforcement bodies" but names nobody. How is that supposed to offer comfort to people who are worried sick about the one thing that is most important to them – their money?
But there is good news on one front: those cloying messages from the MyBudget founder, Tammy Barton, are back, though delayed by a day. Barton has now posted her take for Tuesday online. The company appears to think this is the most important part of its reaction, given that it is proclaimed in bold type.
It is introduced with these reassuring words: "Our technology experts, along with our external partners, are meticulously testing our client web portal and app with the aim of successfully restoring those services by the end of this week.
"We know how important it is for you to have visibility over your finances and it’s our highest priority to provide exactly that ASAP."
Somehow, one doesn't think those words will comfort the people who are wondering whether their bills have been paid or whether they will get eviction notices from their landlords soon.