In February, I had a painful experience with a money transfer gone awry. Sleepless nights, frantic emails and waiting on the phone for someone, anyone to take my bank hotline calls, filled my days until my money was safe again on my account, down to the last penny.
To be honest, I have been doing money transfer for a long time. But before confinement, my transfers were intra-bank, that is to say from one account to another of the same bank. Interbank transfers were new to me, but when Quarantine in its many forms was introduced in March 2020, I began to rely heavily on depositing money from one bank to another via digital transfers through Instapay.
An important factor was convenience. If all goes well, the money is credited in real time (i.e. within seconds) and it hasn’t hurt that my bank is offering the service for free at the moment. Honestly, I had no complaints until my money was gone.
After writing about my sad experience, strangers found me on social media asking for advice, as they also “lost” their money in cyberspace. Last weekend there were more requests for messages than usual and I learned that several banks are using the Independence Day weekend for system improvements. Why they keep calling it that when many times in the past improvements to their system have resulted in their losses as well as those of their customers is beyond me. But for now, let’s focus on the scandalous customers.
Before you hit that confirmation button for your funds transfer, consider these tips so that your money doesn’t just disappear from your account. You can also check out my previous two columns for more tips and disclaimers regarding terms and conditions.
# 1 Choose Intra-bank over Inter-bank when you can.
With intra-bank money transfer, the accounts of the sender and the recipient are at the same bank. If there is a problem, you know who to call, and your bank can resolve it faster because there is no third party. The wait will still be painful but you would be unlikely to pass between the two shores, if not more.
# 2 Keep your money transfer amounts small or at least manageable.
What made my “loss” super painful was the amount – I maxed out the daily limit of P 50,000 because I was transferring funds between my two accounts at 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 can also lose it all in one go, so consider smaller amounts instead.
# 3 Read and reread the fine print.
After learning that Instapay’s terms and conditions release them from almost any responsibility when entering the wrong account number, I took great care to double-check and double-verify that I typed the correct one. This is because once the funds transfer is complete and you realize you sent it to the wrong account, you will have to try and get your money back from that account owner. How can you even begin to find the person with the bank secrecy laws and policies?
# 4 Leave a digital trail.
Always check the bank account you are transferring to. If you are paying a supplier, keep a screenshot of the supplier’s instructions. If they gave you the wrong account number, it’s theirs, not you. Once the money is sent, take a screenshot of the confirmation. If possible, register your email address to get automatic email confirmations. The more official confirmations you have, the easier it will be for you to track your money and get it back in case of loss.
# 5 Good to know now what to do if this happens to you.
Before confirming your next money transfer, why not read the terms and conditions you agree to? Contact your bank and ask their claims process if something like this should happen. Write down their customer service phone numbers and email addresses – this will be especially helpful if your money is “lost” over a long weekend. Did you know that Instapay does not have a hotline? For any problem, your bank is always the one to call. They will then need to contact Instapay and review your concerns, which could take some time. If you don’t like the terms and conditions, or if the bank gives you unclear answers, it’s time to consider other, safer options.
Warning: The opinions expressed in this blog are those of the blogger and do not necessarily reflect those of ABS-CBN Corp.
Aneth Ng Lim, Paying It Forward, featured blog, blogroll, digital banking, digital money, e-cash, online bank transfer, fintech