Although the trend these days is to go cashless, it may not be entirely possible to do without cash. If you look around you’ll notice that you’ll need cash to transact with small-time vendors selling fruits and vegetables on carts, the ‘dhobi’ from the next lane who irons clothes for Rs. 6 per piece, the corner shop selling eggs and bread, or even the guy selling tender coconuts down the lane.
But more importantly, you’ll need cash even if you’re travelling by bus or taking the metro to commute on a daily basis. And since you can’t swipe your Credit or Debit Card you will need hard cash to pay for all of it.
And while you’re at the Automated Teller Machine (ATM) trying to withdraw money, a lot of things can happen. Here are some possible scenarios.
You get to the ATM, insert your Debit Card with the PIN number and withdraw cash successfully.
Great! Your work is done.
You get to the ATM, insert your Debit Card with the PIN number and your transaction gets declined. So, you don’t get any money.
You can try again after sometime or at another ATM. (Perhaps your account has insufficient funds!)
You get to the ATM, insert your Debit Card with the PIN number and your transaction gets declined. But, immediately you get a notification through SMS that your account is debited.
What can you do?
Let’s first explain to you why this could happen before we tell you what to do. The ATM could genuinely be faulty and may not register the transaction details correctly. In some cases, the ATM could be out of cash, and in some other cases, this could be a case of fraud. Yes! You heard it right.
These days it’s very easy to affix a skimming machine on an ATM. A skimmer looks exactly like the card reader at the ATM except, it’s not the banks reader. It is camouflaged to look like the genuine card reader and it’s easy to fall prey to such a gimmick. Now, what this fake reader does is, it skims/reads your card and stores its details only to be used later by the fraudsters. Hence, it’s important that you always check the slot machine before you dip your card.
Now, coming back to what you should do when the ATM declines your transaction and debits your account. First things first, don’t panic. There is hope and if you follow these steps you can get your money back. If this isn’t a case of fraud and if it’s because the ATM is faulty, the bank’s system will recognise the error and you will get an immediate credit to your account and you’ll be notified via a text message. But if you still haven’t received this SMS, you can take these steps to ensure you get a debit reversal to your account.
Before you start any of these steps, it’s important that you keep the transaction slip safe with you since it will have the transaction reference number that you will have to quote when you start following up with the bank.
- Customer Care: Since most banks these days have a phone-banking facility, you can call up your banks customer care number which is usually written at the back of your Debit Card. Once you confirm your identity to them via entering your T-Pin number and confirming other details, you can inform the executive about the incident quoting your transaction slip and the reference number. Usually, the executive will give you a tracking number and raise a ticket and investigate the matter. And upon verification, if this was genuinely an error from the bank’s side, they will refund your money to your account within 7 working days. So, sit tight.
- Visit the Branch: However, if your problem still hasn’t been solved or if you weren’t able to get in touch with your bank through phone-banking, you can visit your bank’s nearest branch to raise this issue. The helpdesk at your bank will take down your complaint and direct it to the right individuals/teams who will look into the matter and reverse the transaction for the incorrect debit.
- Escalate: If you’re not satisfied with the first two steps or if you haven’t yet received your money that was wrongly debited, you will have to take this to the next level. This means that you need to escalate it to the Branch Manager of the bank where you hold the account. A person of authority can make things move quickly. Every bank also has a grievance cell that looks into matters with utmost priority. If you get on to your bank’s website you will be able to find a section wherein you can post your complaint. The grievance cell will look into these issues.
- Ombudsman: If the amount has not yet been reimbursed despite your follow ups and through other steps, you can reach out to the Reserve Bank of India or to the banking Ombudsman directly. Complaints can be sent in writing or online through the RBI website. However, please do note that you can get in touch with the banking ombudsman only post 30 days after you’ve sent in your written complaint to the bank.
- National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission: The NCDRC is a quasi-judicial commission in India which was set up in 1988 under the Consumer Protection Act of 1986. If your issue still hasn’t been resolved, then you sure have a fair chance of getting it sorted after you’ve reached out to the NCDRC.
- Legal: In most cases you will not require to go beyond point number 4. But in a worst case scenario you can always seek legal counsel to get this problem addressed.
More often than not, if your transaction at the ATM didn’t go through and you were wrongly charged it is because the ATM is faulty. And in most cases, the banks are rather proactive and will help you get your money back. Undoubtedly, it will need some effort from your end and the above steps will definitely help you through the chase.