What to Do if an ATM Doesn't Give You Money

Image shows an angry woman slamming her fist on an ATM machine. Text reads: "An ATM didn't give you your money: what's next? Record the exact time, date, and location of the malfunction. Call your card issuer or bank. Your bank has 45 days to investigate ATM withdrawals."

The Balance / Theresa Chiechi

It can be frustrating and scary when an ATM does not give you your money. While problems are rare, ATMs malfunction sometimes. You may only get a portion of your withdrawal, or you receive nothing at all. But if your bank shows the full withdrawal in your transaction history, you may need to take action.

Banks typically clear up these issues quickly, but glitches can create anxiety while you wonder whether or not you’ll get reimbursed—or if the bank will believe your story. What’s more, this mishap could cause financial issues if your account balance is already low.

Learn what to do and how to act when you don’t receive your money from an ATM.

Key Takeaways

  • While it’s rare, ATMs sometimes malfunction, causing you to not receive your money.
  • Notify your bank immediately if you don’t get all of your money from an ATM.
  • ATM problems can be a signal of fraudulent tampering, so quit using any machine that is not working properly.
  • Banks investigate errors with ATMS and must respond to most disputes within a few weeks.

How to Handle ATM Errors

In a best-case scenario, the bank or ATM operator already knows that the mistake occurred and will fix the error in your account. But in some cases, it takes more effort on your part.

As soon as you realize there may be an error, do not continue using the ATM. ATM problems can be a sign of fraud, and in this case, thieves may have changed something on the device. Because of this, it is best to minimize contact with that machine.

Get Details About the ATM

Record the exact time, date, and location of the malfunction.

If there are several machines at one location, which one was it? To be extra careful, take pictures with your phone and send yourself a text message for a digital record of when and where you got shorted.

Call Your Card Issuer or Bank

If you don’t receive your money, file a claim with your bank immediately to start the resolution process. If you used a credit card instead of a debit card linked to your checking account, check with the card issuer. In both cases, explain what happened, and request an investigation. Your card issuer will research the issue with the ATM operator.

If an ATM fails to give you money, report the problem as soon as possible by immediately contacting your bank or credit union.

If a bank other than your own card issuer owns the ATM, it may also make sense to contact the ATM owner. But your bank has the ultimate power to fix the situation. Even for ATMs in the lobby of a bank branch, onsite employees typically cannot open the machine or reimburse you immediately. However, bank employees can take your claim in person.

If you use an ATM somewhere else, such as a convenience store, tell an employee what happened. They might have contact information for the machine owner, and they can alert others who try to use the machine.

Technically, you have up to 60 days after your monthly statement date to report a problem and get it resolved. However, it’s best to notify your bank of issues stemming from an ATM withdrawal immediately.

Consumer Protections for ATM Errors

Under federal law, you are protected from these types of errors and fraud. If you used a debit card, Regulation E—a Federal Reserve regulation outlining rules and procedures for electronic funds transfers—provides that your bank must investigate the research and resolve your claim.

Your bank will begin an inquiry after you report the problem. Then, the bank has 10 business days to review the matter or credit your account and let you know the course of action. If the bank cannot determine the cause of the problem within 10 days, you should receive a temporary credit, known as a provisional credit.

If your bank or credit union lets you know the course of action within the 10-day period, then it may take up to 45 days from receipt of notice of the error to investigate and determine what happened.

The bank calls this credit “provisional” because you only get to keep the money if the bank finds an error. If the bank decides against you, it will remove the credit, and you’ll be responsible for replacing any of the money you spend.

Bank Investigation Into ATM Error

Your bank may take up to 45 days to investigate most ATM withdrawals, so nothing is certain until you hear back from the bank. Also, if the problem happened out of state or with an account that’s less than 30 days old, banks can take extra time.

To ensure that your bank follows through on an investigation, ask if you need to provide a report in writing. Notifying your bank with a phone call is a good start, but some banks require you to submit a formal request, as well. Doing so helps to protect your rights.

This doesn’t make things any easier in the short term, but there’s a good chance you’ll eventually be reimbursed.