NatWest customers have been urged to check their bank statements after 112,000 customers discovered they had been debited twice due to a payment glitch.
The error has meant some accounts are showing a lower available balance than normal, with some customers complaining the error has pushed them into their overdraft.
What has NatWest said?
The majority of NatWest customers will not be affected by the error, but said those that have been debited twice will not be left out of pocket as a result.
In a service update, the bank said: “Some customer accounts are showing debit card purchases twice, and in certain cases, their available balance will be lower than it should, we’re really sorry for any inconvenience.”
Responding to a customer on Twitter, NatWest said: “We are aware that some NatWest customers’ accounts are showing some Visa debit card purchases twice, and in certain cases, their available balance will be lower than it should.
“We are working to fix the problem and will ensure that no customer is left out of pocket. Our customers can be assured that payments to retailers/merchants have only been made once, so there is no need to contact them. We apologise for any inconvenience this has caused.”
How do double payments occur?
The way we pay for things has changed dramatically over the past two decades and it used to take three to five days for payments to go through your account.
The introduction of a ‘faster payments’ system means that money can now leave your account and a successful transaction can be made within five minutes, helping to reduce confusion over how much money you truly have in your account.
However, accounts can duplicate debit payments due to a glitch in the bank’s payment system.
When paying via a ‘merchant terminal’, the machine you tap or type your PIN into, can also duplicate payments in error, or you could accidentally send a double payment to the same person.
How do I deal with a double payment?
If you find that you have been debited twice or more for a single payment, contact your bank or card provider and explain the situation.
Getting a refund should not be a problem and the bank can usually sort out the problem right away, as it should be clear to the card provider the extra debit is the result of an error.
Payments have codes and information attached to them that allow the business to see when and where the payment occurred.
However, there may be times when the bank may ask you to sign a document to confirm that you did not authorise more than one payment, which usually occurs when it involves high amounts. For example, if a merchant terminal is playing up, a shop could divide payment into two to get it to go through.
Although, this is pretty unusual though and there should be clear proof you have authorised the payment either by entering your pin or tapping the card.
If the amount you have been charged is not what you authorised then again, the error is likely to be clear.
How can I avoid duplicate debits?
Regularly checking your bank statements is a strong way to check if you have been charged twice for something.
It is only when banks spot their own technical glitches or there is a big error that they tend to notice a problem with duplicate payments, but if you spot anything you do not recognise you should go through the appeals process for disputing transactions.
Some payments might not seem familiar but could make sense when you find out more about them, so ask the payment system provider for as much information as they have if you are not sure if you made the payment.
Alternatively, you can go to the Financial Ombudsman for any dispute involving a financial product, like plastic cards and third-party payment systems, and the Ombudsman can look at your complaint for free too.