Bank says sorry after error leaves customers short of cash

FIRST Trust Bank has issued an apology to members of Cloughfern Credit Union after some customers were left short of cash just weeks before Christmas due to a delay in processing debit card transactions.

Mallusk woman Dawn McDowell, a member of Cloughfern Credit Union for the past three years, contacted the Times last week after her debit card was declined in a shop, despite her thinking that she had sufficient funds in her account.

After checking a print-out of her recent transactions, Dawn realised that several 'point of sale' payments made months previously had not been processed at the time, but had only just been taken out of her account.

"There had been payments taken out totalling 575 - payments that I'd made at the Credit Union months ago. I'm now overdrawn and left with no money just a few weeks before Christmas," she said.

"I thought that when you paid something with a debit card the money came out of your account straight away, but it seems that isn't necessarily the case.

"Apparently the people who run the card machines for First Trust Bank made some mistake processing the payments."

Dawn said that another member of the Cloughfern branch had payments totalling 1,700 taken out of his account.

"If they were just going to take the money in one go it would have been nice to have had some notice of it, not just to have been left short of money before Christmas," she added.

It is understood that a number of Credit Unions use the same payment system, but it isn't known exactly how many people were affected by the processing error.

A spokesman for First Trust Bank, whose service provider, First Data, provides the card terminals used in the Credit Unions, apologised to customers for any inconvenience caused.

"Following investigation it was found that due to a system error by our service provider, payments made at the point of sale terminals in three local Credit Unions were not being charged to the card holder's account at the time of the transaction.

"This error was fixed by the service provider to ensure that customers making transactions are immediately charged for their transactions. The uncharged transactions made during this period were processed on December 3 to bring individual accounts into line.

"We apologise to those customers affected by this payment processing delay and have initiated a review with our service provider to ensure this type of error cannot happen again. Should customers have any queries regarding this issue we would invite them to contact their local Credit Union," he commented.