ONLINE payments by current account holders at Tesco Bank have been blocked after money was taken from 20,000 accounts.

The bank's chief executive Benny Higgins has said he is "very hopeful" customers would be refunded within 24 hours.

Around 40,000 accounts saw suspicious transactions over the weekend, with half of them having money taken, according to Mr Higgins, who has apologised for the "worry and inconvenience" caused to customers.

Customers are still able to take ot cash with their cards, and make chip and pin and bill payments.

But they will not be able to make online payments with their debit cards.

But transfers between accounts and to other people are still permitted.

Tesco has blamed the problem on "online criminal activity" and fraudulent withdrawls of cash.

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