BPI customers hit by erroneous postholiday debit charges
Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI) clients were bracing for the postholiday “bill shock” when they were jolted by another surprise on Wednesday morning after discovering thousands of pesos deducted from their accounts amid a wave of mysterious debit charges.
The issue soon went viral with terms like “Hoy BPI” and “0431 Debit Memo” appearing on Twitter’s top trending lists.
Adding to the anxiety of bank customers was the sudden inaccessibility of BPI’s online platforms and mobile apps. Those that managed to log in found missing money in the amounts of a few hundred to tens of thousands of pesos.
The country’s third biggest lender said on Wednesday the incident was caused by duplicate transactions affecting its automated teller machines (ATM), cash accept machines (CAM) and point of sale (POS) channels during the weekend.
It also resolved to fix the issue within the day.
“Some ATM, CAM deposits, POS and e-commerce debit transactions from December 30 to 31, 2022 were posted twice. We are already working to reverse the duplicate transactions. Rest assured that your account is safe and secure,” said BPI, which is owned by conglomerate Ayala Corp.
BPI did not detail the exact cause of the double entries and advised customers of intermittent online access, fueling frustration among clients who were unable to make transactions.
Patricia del Mundo, a fourth-year nursing student, told the Inquirer she was shocked to find about P25,000 removed from her account when she tried to pay her internet bills on Wednesday morning.
“I saw two Jan. 3 transactions when I didn’t even go out of the house nor made any online purchases, and two debit memos. I noticed that four of those reflected the same amount as what I withdrew last Dec. 31,” she said.
Del Mundo was relieved to learn hers was not an isolated case but hoped BPI would resolve the matter and explain the cause.
“They really need to give more explanation as to why this happened in the first place, seeing that a huge amount of money has been deducted from several of their clients,” she said.
On Wednesday, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas said it was aware of the issue and was “closely coordinating with BPI.”
“The bank already identified the root cause of the operational error and committed to reverse the erroneous transactions and restore mobile and internet banking services the soonest possible,” the BSP said.
“The BSP has instructed BPI to submit a timeline and updates on the reversal of its erroneous transactions,” it added.
In 2017, BPI suffered a major glitch when its systems bogged down for two days and wrong account balances showed up in roughly 1.5 million accounts.
Kat, another account holder who declined to give her last name, told the Inquirer the incident was stressful but she was not thinking of switching to another bank.
“It was stressful but I’m glad they released a statement that they would address the issue, which is unlike other banks I’ve tried when they faced something similar,” she said.
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