PDA

View Full Version : ATM issues



zacharync
01-20-2012, 02:02 PM
I currently live in Guatemala while serving as a Peace Corps volunteer.

This morning I went into a nearby city to withdraw some money using my Wachovia/Wells Fargo debit card. I attempted to withdraw 1000 Quetzales (or about $133) from an ATM that I have used countless times over the past year and a half. Everything seemed fine until it became apparent that no money was going to be dispensed. Stupidly, I repeated this process only to again not receive any cash.

I then called to check on my balance and soon found out that the funds had been withdrawn from my account. This was not a good feeling. I went to the local Guatemalan bank whose name is on the ATM and they simply told me this was an issue I needed to take up with my American bank.

I called Wells Fargo and was told that the only thing I could do at this time was to file a complaint and wait 10 business days to see if the funds can be reimbursed. The representative said that Wells Fargo will investigate the problem. I am obviously quite worried about this. $266 is a considerable sum to me at this moment.

I would like to think that in this day in age Wells Fargo will know exactly where this ATM is located and can get in touch with its operator who will realize he is holding an extra Q2000($266). I have my doubts however.

Anyway, I was wondering if anyone at RZ has had a similar problem and what if any results they had with their bank. Also, would be interested to hear what you think my chances are of recovering anything from this ordeal.

Thanks.

Spazzrico
01-20-2012, 02:19 PM
I haven't honestly had this issue before....I'm willing to bet though that you will probably get your money in the end, but it may be awhile. My own experience is more in the area of credit theft (someone stealing my number and using it). In those cases I have quickly gotten reimbursed, but I had to sign and affidavit swearing it was fraud. I'm guessing something like this can be done for you. It isn't an enormous amount of money and your story would most likely be corroborated by your attempting to retrieve the same amount of money twice in a row.....also I'm assuming that your record otherwise is pretty good so they will tend to give the benefit of the doubt. In any case you need to be very persistent. One thing thing I have learned in the course of time is you have to be your own advocate. Refuse to take no for an answer when your finances are at stake and you are in the right. If they give you crap turn yourself into a headache for them (while being very polite).

Good luck in any case!

jimbo
01-20-2012, 02:54 PM
My grandmother and aunt, both from Florida, had $600 withdrawn from their Fifth Third accounts a few months ago. The bank traced the transactions to somewhere in Mexico and Canada. After investigating, it was found that they had both used their cards at an eating establishment and that an employee there stole their card information and sold it to a third party.

To Fifth Third's credit, they immediately refunded their money once they discovered what had happened. I think you should really push your bank into doing the same, they are at fault for not flagging and denying a suspicious transaction.

TRF
01-20-2012, 03:47 PM
Demand WF get someone to audit the machine.

zacharync
01-20-2012, 05:04 PM
Demand WF get someone to audit the machine.

Will do, that's a good idea. Thanks.

zacharync
01-20-2012, 05:12 PM
My main concern is that it's not a Wells Fargo machine. Furthermore, the Guatemalan bank claimed ignorance. I am hoping someone from WF can get a handle on what the ATM situation is in Guatemala. I hope there isn't a third party involved that manages the ATM. Like I said, it's an ATM of the Guatemalan bank which makes me hope they handle the books.

RBA
01-20-2012, 05:25 PM
I banked with Wells Fargo for three months. Never again.

zacharync
01-20-2012, 05:48 PM
I banked with Wells Fargo for three months. Never again.

Thanks for the support and vote of confidence.

I would think a large bank like Wells Fargo would have the resources to investigate a matter such as this, while a credit union or smaller operation would not.

reds1869
01-20-2012, 08:11 PM
Thanks for the support and vote of confidence.

I would think a large bank like Wells Fargo would have the resources to investigate a matter such as this, while a credit union or smaller operation would not.

Bigger banks may have bigger resources, but they don't have more motivation. A small bank or credit union will bend over backwards because they can't afford to lose your business; you are nothing but an account number to Wells Fargo (I've had very negative experiences with WF for what it is worth). I hope everything works out and you get your money back. I think you will but I also don't think you should expect a fast turn around.

oneupper
01-20-2012, 08:25 PM
My main concern is that it's not a Wells Fargo machine. Furthermore, the Guatemalan bank claimed ignorance. I am hoping someone from WF can get a handle on what the ATM situation is in Guatemala. I hope there isn't a third party involved that manages the ATM. Like I said, it's an ATM of the Guatemalan bank which makes me hope they handle the books.

Your situation is not uncommon or unique. Here's another instance.

http://www.elliott.org/blog/foreign-atm-sucks-391-out-of-a-travelers-account-and-his-bank-lets-it/

Problem is you have at least two parties involved. The culprit is the local ATM owner (the Guatemalan bank), which has already charged Wells Fargo for your withdrawal (and Wells Fargo has debited your account). See, you're not out $266, you're out 2,000 Quetzals.

If the Guatemalan bank doesn't own up to the mistake to WF, WF would have to take the loss on your withdrawal.

You need to get pissy with the Guatemalan Bank. They cannot simply tell you to go to the US bank. It's their ATM they have your 2,000 Quetzals.
You are likely to run into a brick wall. So, put it all in writing. Keep copies of everything. If the Guatemalan bank doesn't give you the 2,000 Qs, THEN take it back to Wells Fargo.

If that doesn't work, then file a complaint with BBB (against Wells Fargo). (free online...you can do from Guatemala.). If THAT doesn't work, take it to the media when you get stateside.
Be a nuisance.

Unless the Guatemalan Bank is part of Wells' "preferred" international correspondents, there is no real incentive for them to make you whole. And the only incentive for Wells to take the loss, is retaining you as a client (your future business may not be worth $266 to them).

I'd give you better than even odds of getting your money back, if you insist on it.

Good Luck.

zacharync
01-20-2012, 08:57 PM
NM

zacharync
01-20-2012, 09:03 PM
Your situation is not uncommon or unique. Here's another instance.

http://www.elliott.org/blog/foreign-atm-sucks-391-out-of-a-travelers-account-and-his-bank-lets-it/

Problem is you have at least two parties involved. The culprit is the local ATM owner (the Guatemalan bank), which has already charged Wells Fargo for your withdrawal (and Wells Fargo has debited your account). See, you're not out $266, you're out 2,000 Quetzals.

If the Guatemalan bank doesn't own up to the mistake to WF, WF would have to take the loss on your withdrawal.

You need to get pissy with the Guatemalan Bank. They cannot simply tell you to go to the US bank. It's their ATM they have your 2,000 Quetzals.
You are likely to run into a brick wall. So, put it all in writing. Keep copies of everything. If the Guatemalan bank doesn't give you the 2,000 Qs, THEN take it back to Wells Fargo.

If that doesn't work, then file a complaint with BBB (against Wells Fargo). (free online...you can do from Guatemala.). If THAT doesn't work, take it to the media when you get stateside.
Be a nuisance.

Unless the Guatemalan Bank is part of Wells' "preferred" international correspondents, there is no real incentive for them to make you whole. And the only incentive for Wells to take the loss, is retaining you as a client (your future business may not be worth $266 to them).

I'd give you better than even odds of getting your money back, if you insist on it.

Good Luck.

Good grief man. What a headache.

I am confident in saying that BancoIndustrial(the owner of this ATM) is a legit operation and has perhaps the best reputation among banks in Guatemala. BI is the bank the Peace Corps and the US embassy here uses. It manages literally millions of Quetzales on behalf of the US Government.

Should I just walk into the local branch and demand that they check their account on the ATM? Maybe I will. No doubt I will get the runaround.

However, it should be as simple as Wells Fargo giving them a call and them looking at their accounts and balances and realizing they have Q2000 more than they should. Coupled with the time stamps that both banks should have of the failed transaction.

Did I mention that there was no receipt?

RedFanAlways1966
01-20-2012, 10:23 PM
Might be a bit of a stretch, but does that ATM have a camera? I know that most do in the US. Might use this as some sort of leverage when talking to the bank. There is evidence and day/time that you were there in their records and a video might show you received no money.

Good luck. I hope you get your money.

oneupper
01-20-2012, 10:48 PM
Should I just walk into the local branch and demand that they check their account on the ATM? Maybe I will. No doubt I will get the runaround.

Did I mention that there was no receipt?

Yes. You should go to the branch, particularly if it was attached to that ATM and explain your situation. If there is form to fill, fill it. If not leave a letter.
There needs to be some sort of evidence that you had a problem. You are not the first (or last) person that this has happened to. There IS a procedure for this.

Understand that things are not quite as automatic as you might think. Each ATM machine has a different "account" at its bank. The amount of cash it disburses should match the withdrawals made. There is an electronic record of those withdrawals. When they reconcile the ATM's cash balance (possibly physically counting) with the withdrawals made, they will notice the difference. If there are claims on that difference (such as yours), they'll reimburse them.
If no claims are there, someone will pocket that money (bank, guy who fills up the ATM, etc).

I think you can also presume that you may not be the only one who had this problem today. That helps your case.

No receipt is not good, but you do have (and can print out, presumably), the evidence of your withdrawals from the WF account, which certainly specifies that it was an overseas withdrawal and possibly could even specify which ATM it was.

The best solution is if Banco Industrial gives you the 2000 Quetzales, because that ends everything there. If you want WF to credit you, they are going to go to Banco Industrial first (or worse, an intermediary bank) and try to get their money back that way. It will take longer.

Make sure your claim is in and that it is going through the right channels. Sure it's a pain, but don't get mad, just be persistent.

Johnny Footstool
01-21-2012, 12:41 AM
zacharync, I can give no other advice than this: oneupper is extremely knowledgeable and trustworthy. If I were in your situation, I would do whatever he suggests.

reds1869
01-21-2012, 09:37 AM
zacharync, I can give no other advice than this: oneupper is extremely knowledgeable and trustworthy. If I were in your situation, I would do whatever he suggests.

I agree, his advice is about as good as it gets.

zacharync
01-21-2012, 09:46 AM
Yes. You should go to the branch

Will be heading into town shortly to visit the Guatemalan bank. Bringing along my Guatemalan girlfriend just to be sure not too much is lost in translation.

Thanks for the advice oneupper. Much appreciated.

Roy Tucker
01-23-2012, 04:46 PM
zacharync, I can give no other advice than this: oneupper is extremely knowledgeable and trustworthy. If I were in your situation, I would do whatever he suggests.

Sometimes this site amazes me. Where else can you go and get intelligent advice about ATM's in Guatemala?

gonelong
01-23-2012, 05:02 PM
Sometimes this site amazes me. Where else can you go and get intelligent advice about ATM's in Guatemala?

We might have to start playing stump Redzone.

GL

zacharync
01-27-2012, 05:23 PM
Update:

I received an email yesterday from Wells Fargo that said in part,

"We are processing a temporary credit to your Wells Fargo account. This credit is provisional until our investigation is complete."

What is the point of a provisional credit?

RBA
01-27-2012, 05:45 PM
Update:

I received an email yesterday from Wells Fargo that said in part,

"We are processing a temporary credit to your Wells Fargo account. This credit is provisional until our investigation is complete."

What is the point of a provisional credit?

They are going to want it back either from you are the owner of the ATM/Bank. Unless they deem it their own fault.

zacharync
01-27-2012, 06:00 PM
They are going to want it back either from you are the owner of the ATM/Bank. Unless they deem it their own fault.

Then why issue a provisional credit at all? Why not wait until the investigation is complete and they figure out who made the error?

Roy Tucker
01-27-2012, 06:18 PM
Sounds like they are temporarily covering your loss which doesn't seem a bad thing. They could just tell you to wait and tough luck on the lost $$$.

After the investigation, it will either become permanent or it will get rescinded. So keep a buffer in your bank account.

RedsfaninMT
01-29-2012, 12:45 PM
Don't sweat it. My wife and I went to S. Africa couple years ago. I withdrew money at an ATM at a gas station. We got home 17 days later to discover the maximum of $200 was withdrawn every day after I took that money out. I filed a claim with our bank (small, local branch) and they "provisionally" gave us all the funds back.

When I queried, why provisional, they told me that sometimes folks go overseas, withdraw the money, then come back and file a claim. They investigated the machine in question, determined there was fraud, and reimbursed me in full.

I was also told that ATM fraud like this is common place in the USA. They recommended only using an ATM at a bank in the future. I have followed that advice since.

Scared the crap out of me. That was a big shock to get back and look at the bank statement and see over $3,000 less in there than should have been.

goreds2
01-30-2012, 09:34 PM
My grandmother and aunt, both from Florida, had $600 withdrawn from their Fifth Third accounts a few months ago. The bank traced the transactions to somewhere in Mexico and Canada. After investigating, it was found that they had both used their cards at an eating establishment and that an employee there stole their card information and sold it to a third party.

To Fifth Third's credit, they immediately refunded their money once they discovered what had happened. I think you should really push your bank into doing the same, they are at fault for not flagging and denying a suspicious transaction.

I have never used a debit or credit card at a restaurant. This is why.

Caveman Techie
01-31-2012, 08:24 AM
Pro tip* Never use those free standing small ATM's. The money in those things are kept secure using a very good safe, however the motherboard that controls the ATM is not so well protected. Most of them are protected by a very thin aluminum box that is key'd commonly.

I saw a demonstration at Black Hat where the guy loaded a new OS to a USB flash drive, walked up to one of those ATM's, opened it up and plugged in the flash drive, closed the MB box in less than 5 seconds. After that he just rebooted the ATM by unplugging it from the wall and plugging it back in. Once it came up he owned all the information that ATM had. He said if he were really hacking the machine he wouldn't interfere with the operation of it, cause the banks/owners of the ATM's track the amount of money in the ATM very closely. He would just collect card numbers and pin's for a few days, then have the ATM phone home and dump all the data he had collected.

Very interesting demonstration.

oneupper
01-31-2012, 08:38 AM
I think you're fine now. You raised enough stink with WF and the bank in Guatemala, for there to be little doubt you were short-changed. And you did it quickly enough to thwart attempts to put the issue to the side (and someone take advantage).
Possession is 90% of ownership, they say. It may be "temporary", but you have your money. It's going to be difficult for the banks to justify taking it away again.

Good job.