Bank charges cardholders twice

Some debit card users paid more than they bargained for Tuesday when a technical glitch overcharged some credit union members.

Alaska USA Federal Credit Union cardholders were charged twice for transactions in a one-hour period between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. Tuesday. The hiccup was caused by the third-party company that handles the credit union’s debit and credit transactions, said Alaska USA vice president Dan McCue.

McCue said the credit union is being “proactive” and “doing everything we can to work and get this resolved quickly.”

“We’ve identified the issue and we’re working on getting it corrected and taking care of all members and transactions impacting their accounts.”

He said Alaska USA is looking into how many accounts were affected by the glitch and doesn’t have an exact time frame as to when customers were double-billed. He encouraged customers to check their accounts and to notify Alaska USA of any discrepancies.

Juneau School District substitute teacher Hilary Coonjohn said she doesn’t typically check her account each day, but her card was declined while shopping Tuesday afternoon. Coonjohn said she deposited cash into her account earlier in the day, and it wasn’t until she saw her card had been charged twice at two separate stores that the problem came to light. She first noticed a double charge accrued at 11:17 a.m. after leaving Fred Meyer.

“I was quite flustered this morning,” Coonjohn said. “I have to use cash. I literally can’t touch my bank account.”

She said the extra charges overdrew from her checking account, so money in her savings account transferred over. By the time Coonjohn realized what was happening, her checking and savings had been depleted and she was hit with overdraft fees.

“I can’t use my credit card or have people transfer money to my account because it will be chewed up by the overage charge,” she said.

The credit union told Coonjohn they’ll likely have the problem fixed by Friday. If not, she said, her paycheck will be eaten up by the overage fees.

Despite having to borrow money from her parents in order to take her son to the movies on Wednesday, Coonjohn said she isn’t “harboring any hostility” toward the credit union, so long as she is reimbursed. She said everyone she’s spoken to with Alaska USA has been forthcoming with information and cooperative.

“I care mostly about letting the public become aware of the issue,” she said. “I’m worried about other people. If you’re a mother of four and just bought groceries, what are you going to do for money now?”

McCue said credit union members who were overcharged can contact Alaska USA toll-free at 1-800-525-9094. Alaska USA is based in Anchorage and has 67 branches in Alaska, California and Washington, with more than 491,000 members worldwide.

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