Back in February, I had a painful experience with money transfer gone wrong. Sleepless nights, frantic emails and waiting on the phone for someone, just anyone, to pick up my calls to the bank customer hotline filled my days until my money was safely back in my account, down to the last centavo.
To be honest, I have been doing funds transfer for a long time. But before the lockdown, my transfers were intra-bank, meaning from one account to another of the same bank. Inter-bank transfers were new to me but when the quarantine in its many forms were introduced in March 2020, I started to rely heavily on depositing money from one bank to another through digital transfers via Instapay.
A big factor was the convenience. If everything goes well, the money is credited in real-time (meaning in seconds) and it did not hurt that my bank for now is offering the service for free. Honestly, I had no complaints until my money went missing.
After I wrote about my sorry experience, strangers found me in social media feeds asking for advice as they also “lost” their money in cyberspace. Last weekend, there were more message requests than usual and I learned that several banks used the Independence Day weekend for system enhancements. Why they continue to call it that when many times in the past their system enhancements have led to their losses as well as their customers’ is beyond me. But for now, let’s focus on the customers that are crying foul.
Before you hit that confirm button for your funds transfer, consider these tips so your money won’t just disappear from your account. You may also want to check out my two previous columns for more tips and warnings regarding the terms and conditions.
#1 Choose Intra-bank over Inter-bank when you can.
With intra-bank money transfer, the accounts of both the sender and the receiver are with the same bank. In case there is a problem, you know who to call, and your bank can more quickly resolve this because there is no third-party. The wait will still be painful but you would unlikely be passed around between the two banks, or more.
#2 Keep your fund transfer amounts small or at least manageable.
What made my “loss” ultra painful was the amount – I maxed the daily limit of P50,000 because I was transferring funds between my two accounts in different banks. One of the readers who messaged me said she was transferring her salary to GCash which she uses to pay for utilities and all other daily expenses. While it is convenient to transfer in one go, you could also lose it in one go so consider smaller amounts instead.
#3 Read and re-read the fine print.
After I learned that Instapay’s terms and conditions free them of almost any liability when you key in a wrong account number, I have been very careful to check and check again that I typed in the correct one. That’s because once the funds transfer is completed, and you realize you sent it to the wrong account, you will have to try and recover your money from that account owner. How can you even begin to find the person with bank secrecy laws and policies?
#4 Leave a digital trail.
Always check the bank account you are transferring to. If you are paying a vendor, keep a screenshot of the vendor’s instructions. If they gave you the wrong account number, that’s on them, not on you. Once the money is sent, take a screenshot of the confirmation. If possible, enroll your email so you get automated email confirmations. The more official confirmations you have, the easier it will be to follow your money and recover it when lost.
#5 Good to know now what to do if this happens to you.
Before you confirm your next funds transfer, why not read the terms and conditions that you are agreeing to? Reach out to your bank and ask them for their complaints process if something like this should happen. Write down the phone numbers and email addresses of their customer service – this will be especially helpful if your money is “lost” over a long weekend. Did you know Instapay has no hotline? For any troubles, your bank is still the one you have to call. They will then have to contact Instapay and look into your concerns and that could take a while. If you do not like the terms and conditions, or the bank gives you unclear answers, time to consider other more secure options.
Disclaimer: The views in this blog are those of the blogger and do not necessarily reflect the views of ABS-CBN Corp.