What to do when online fund transfers go missing 1

How to get your money back when online fund transfers go missing

Aneth Ng-Lim

Posted at Jan 24 2022 04:37 PM

There’s nothing like missing funds to make people go to great lengths to recover their hard-earned money.

When I wrote about my own sorry experience with an Instapay fund transfer that was not credited real-time, I did not expect so many other depositors who found themselves in the same sinking boat to reach out to me.

And considering the privacy settings in my social media accounts, how they tracked me down for advice or simply for a sympathetic ear impressed me enough that I responded to each one.

The most recent appeal came from a Quezon City resident who took out a loan from the Social Security System to pay for her monthly car amortization. She transferred the entire loan proceeds in one transaction and watched the money disappear from her account, but it did not reappear in the beneficiary account.

What did you do wrong?

It’s sad that in cases like these, the first reaction of the depositor is that she made a mistake. That was also mine, because that’s the default thinking of nearly all banks. If you manage to get hold of them they ask questions like: “Did you type the right account number? Did you indicate the right account name?” All the questions point to what mistake did you do? Well, in the case of Miss Quezon City, it was not her fault and she did everything right. 

When your money is on hold and floating

Despite Metro Manila being on Alert Level 3 and quite a number of bank branches closed thanks to the infectious Omicron variant, Miss Quezon City’s persistent efforts paid off when she managed to talk to one bank officer. The officer confirmed that Miss Quezon City was not at fault but for some unexplained reason, her money was on hold and floating. This was the same exact reason given to me and I remember screaming in my head why is it floating and shouldn’t you automatically push it back to the sending account?

Can you just return the money? 

You would think that once they found your money, it will be easier to get it back. But nooo, you have to wait, and in the case of Miss Quezon City, she was told it could take as long as 12 days. For her, that meant she would miss her monthly car payment which would result in penalties plus a bad record in her credit history. Why would Instapay just leave the money floating? If the transaction did not go through, shouldn’t you just return the money where it came from?

How to seriously get your money back

Sadly Miss Quezon City did not just suffer the “loss” of her funds for several days. She also suffered panic attacks worrying that the money was gone and possibly fraudulently stolen. But instead of waiting out the 12 days, she took action and so her money was returned to her in less than 3 days. Here’s what she did to make that happen:

#1 Google for allies

When her bank could not be reached via the customer service hotlines, our depositor turned to Google for help. “I researched for people who might be able to help me and that’s how I found your articles. I also tracked down their Customer Service head and noticed that the bank replied to my email only when she became involved,” explained Miss Quezon City in our chats.

“Thanks to your suggestion, it was helpful that I copied the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Consumer Assistance in my email. As you reminded me that my presence should be felt always through follow-ups, I was persistent in getting through to them for answers.”

#2 Use all the customer helplines from phone to email

Our beleaguered depositor tried the phone lines first but the branch was closed. Then the customer hotline but the wait time was so long “then at the end of the call, you will just hear automated responses. I spent hours on the phone just to reach them.” So she turned to email and Google next.

#3 Talk back when given evasive answers.

At one time, Miss Quezon City was advised by her bank to also contact the beneficiary bank. This would have been futile because that bank never received the money. If any bank can trace it, that would be the sending bank. When she consulted me about this, I told her this sounds like the person you are talking to does not have the right answer, at best, or at worst, a delaying tactic.

With her money safely back in her account, Miss Quezon City will now approach bank transfers more cautiously. “After this experience, I won’t transfer big amounts of money anymore so if glitches happen, it would not be as heartbreaking as it was.” She also plans to keep a money trail, including taking screenshots of every transaction.

“I admit online banking is very efficient. Paying bills and online shopping are made easier. However, one must be very vigilant on their accounts. They must always check if their balance is still updated, if transfers are successful, and must be ready for the consequences of glitches in the system happening. I will still be using online banking but I will definitely be more vigilant in the future,” she concludes. 

Disclaimer: The views in this blog are those of the blogger and do not necessarily reflect the views of ABS-CBN Corp.

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Disclaimer: The views in this blog are those of the blogger and do not necessarily reflect the views of ABS-CBN Corp.