Debit cards make shopping easier, but paying with a card is not foolproof. Mistakes happen in transferring information. Sometimes the mistakes involve technology, but most times it's the fault of the human running the card through the reader or an office worker handling card numbers. If you find yourself with double debits for the same item, it's not a major problem -- provided you act quickly to call attention to the mistake.
Debit Company Contact
Don't be surprised if your debit card company doesn't pick up on the double-withdrawal error, even when the amount is significant. Approximately 13,000 card holders found an unexpected charge totaling more than $23 quadrillion on accounts in 2009, but it took consumer phone calls to tip the bank to the mistake. To add insult to injury, the company also added a $15 over-the-credit-limit fee to the cards. The rub for a debit card mistake means you must spend your time calling the card issuer to report the error as soon as you discover it. Just a call, however, is not enough to prove your claim.
Even though the first step in getting rid of a duplicate charge is to notify the bank with the debit account, it also pays to talk with the vendor to figure out how the double charge ended up taking extra money for your account. Call or visit to talk with the manager or supervisor about the problem. Some vendors ask you to bring in proof of the overcharge and refund the cash for the extra charge. Most, however, require your debit card issuer to make the next move to ask for the cash to be returned to you.
Report the dual charges by sending an official notice to the bank or company issuing the debit card. Include the transaction number, date of the purchase and the amount of money taken from your account. If you saved the receipt for the purchase, make a duplicate copy and insert it with the letter. The debit card agency might also require you to fill out an official report before agreeing to investigate. Typically your debit card agreement lists a set time, sometimes only two days, to discover the double charge or forfeit your cash. Don't wait to report the extra charges or you'll be out of luck for a refund.
Follow up your error report by calling the debit card issuer to track the progress of your claim after 10 days. If you can't get any information over the telephone, and the card issuer is local, visit in person. It's one thing to blow off a telephone call, but it's harder to tell someone in person that you've failed to take any action on a problem. Under federal law, the debit issuer has from 10 to 20 days to resolve the extra charge, if you've done speedy error reporting.
- Chicago Tribune: Metra Warns Customers About Double-Charged Credit Cards
- BBC News: Credit Card Users Double-Charged at New Year
- Federal Trade Commission: Facts for Consumers -- Fair Credit Billing
- MSNBC.com: Visa Card Surprise: $23,148,855,308,184,500.
- Nolo.com: How to Dispute a Billing Error on Your Debit or Credit Card Statement
- Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.: Debit vs. Credit Cards -- How They Stack Up
- First Citizens: Electronic Fund Transfer Customer Notice to Bank or Error Involving ATM or Debit Card
- PayPal: Debit Card Agreement
- Comstock Images/Comstock/Getty Images
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