When a hold shows up on your bank account with the wrong amount, your first instinct may be to pick up the phone and call the bank. What you may not realize is that, quite often, the employee you’ll speak to has no additional information about the hold other than what you are already viewing. I worked at a major regional bank for over four years in inbound customer service. Clients were often confused by wrong amounts showing on holds, and here are the reasons they occur, what usually happens, and what to do if the amount is still wrong once the transaction posts.
The vendor is correct and authorized, the amount is off
It is possible there was a keying error when the vendor rung up the sale. This is usually caught during the reconcilement, usually within a few days, and the correct amount normally shows up once the transaction posts to your account in the ledger portion. So there is usually no reason to worry if a $12.32 charge is showing as a $13.23 hold. If it posts incorrectly, then further action is needed. Keep an eye on it, but there’s no reason to fret or get upset.
The same principle applies to vendors where tips are added. If you ate a $32.98 meal, the restaurant may hold $40, assuming you will tip. Don’t worry. If you tipped in cash, tipped more or less, it all comes to the same. When the receipt is turned in to the bank for payment, the correct amount will post.
The vendor is correct and authorized, but the amount is huge!
For some purchases such as car rentals, hotel stays, or equipment rental, a large amount is held as security. For example, if you rent a car, the merchant may hold up to $400 in security. Once you return the vehicle, your bill is only $100. When you log on to your banking website, you may see a hold for $400 and become alarmed. Relax. The merchant is not collecting that amount. When it processes, the $400 hold will go away and you will only be charged the $100 fee for your rental, as agreed.
If this is not the case, see the first scenario. If you ate at a restaurant and the bill came to $23.24, a keying error could be responsible for the $223.24 hold you’re seeing. This will normally be corrected during the reconcilement. Keep an eye on it and certainly call in if it posts as the incorrect amount.
I have no idea who the vendor is
This can be tricky. The first thing to do is to check on a search engine such as yahoo.com to see if a vendor you visited is owned by the name you see on the hold. It is not unusual at all to see “Giant Corp” on the hold and have the actual charge be from “Manny’s Local Deli” right down the street from your home.
If your initial search turns up nothing, or worse, pulls up questionable results such as sketchy online businesses, pornography, or online gambling sites, call your bank immediately. We will want to stop your card to avoid any other fraudulent charges, and turn the breach into our security group.
In all cases, don’t become upset by an incorrect hold. Most of the time, they are correct when the transactions post. If not, you can file a dispute and recoup your funds. Banks have many ways of verifying transactions, and if you are indeed the victim of fraud, we can find this out and return your funds with no liability to you.