In general, ATMs have a great reputation for reliable and error-free transactions. Millions of ATM transactions occur nationwide each day, with very few problems experienced. Occasionally, though, a consumer will have a problem with a captured ATM/Debit card or a discrepancy regarding a withdrawal amount. In those circumstances, it is helpful to keep the following things in mind:

  • If you are using your own institution’s ATM, you may be able to get assistance immediately by contacting on-site personnel. If your card has been captured, they may be able to immediately issue (or at least place an order for) a replacement card.
  • If you are not a customer of that institution, the branch personnel are prohibited from returning the card to you. Identification and proof of ownership issues are two of the primary reasons. Another is the possibility that your institution requested capture of the card through the ATM network due to fraud or other issues.
  • If the ATM does capture your card, it will be retained within the vault of the ATM until the next time the machine is balanced, and then the card will likely be destroyed.
  • If an ATM problem involves money, branch staff may be able to resolve the problem quickly if you are a member or customer. They can usually research your account and verify the validity of a transaction almost immediately.
  • If not a member or customer, the error resolution process starts with your own financial institution, which may restore the balance in question to your account immediately, subject to their policies. The institution will then use the ATM network and audit trail to resolve the error or problem.
  • If the ATM is located at a location staffed by employees, notify them of your problem and ask for any assistance possible. Make sure to save any and all receipts from the transaction for future documentation and proof.

The bottom line with any ATM malfunction or dispute is to contact the financial institution that issued the ATM/Debit card to you. Your credit union or bank is responsible for following up on any malfunction that occurs at an ATM while using their card.