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What Do You Do When an ATM Messes Up and Doesn’t Give You Your Money?


There may come a time when you attempt to take out money from an ATM. And this ATM will not give you what you asked for, but will say that it has. And you — well, you, in a court of law, are probably significantly less trustworthy and sympathetic to a jury of your peers than an inanimate ATM machine. So what to do? Let’s find out.

Oh WHAT in the FUCKING SHIT now? Machine didn’t give me my money! DAVE! DAVE, LOOK AT THIS, THE MACHINE DIDN’T GIVE ME MY MONEY! What do I do?

The answer, as you might expect should you have a more sober disposition, is pretty straightforward. “The customer would file a claim,” Hilary O’Byrne, communications manager at Wells Fargo, explains. “ATM claims are investigated under a consistent process, which includes validating the balancing of the ATM depository, verification of deposit transaction details, including transactional reporting from the ATM, and the customer’s account details related to the disputed transaction.”

It really is that simple: Call your card issuer or bank, and let them know exactly what happened. In many cases, your bank or the ATM operator will already be aware of the error, and they can refund that missing cash back into your account before the end of the day.

BUT I’M VERY DRUNK. And this ATM is one of those shonky ones in the Goddamn dive bar down the street. Does that make a difference?

Probably not, but it might! First, be sure to record the exact time, date and location of the malfunction. Then, use this information to file a claim with your card issuer or bank (while you can contact the ATM owner if you so choose, remember that your bank ultimately has the power to reimburse you). If you were using an ATM that isn’t operated by your bank — say, you used the ATM at a bar — it might be worth telling one of the employees, as they may have some sort of procedure to ensure that you quickly get your money back.

Thank you, boring but helpful internet voice in my head. *drops to one knee, chugs bottle of Smirnoff Ice* Eurrghhh. What now?

Once your card issuer or bank have been notified, they’ll begin to investigate the incident, and you should see the missing funds credited to your account within 10 days —

10 DAYS? But I need that money nowww…

— but more often than not, that money will be reimbursed within a day or so. It’s important to understand, however, that this is provisional credit, meaning you only get to keep the money if the bank really does finds an error with the ATM.

According to the Electronic Fund Transfer Act, your bank has 45 days to investigate ATM withdrawals. The bank and ATM operator will watch surveillance video, count cash in the machine, look for hidden devices that may have scammed you out of your money, and so on. And while this might take awhile, rest easy knowing that there’s a very good chance you’ll be reimbursed eventually.


You’re welcome.