The price at the pump was pretty bad, there was also a problem for people like Susan Pai.
“This frustration fuels for you?” asked Action News Jax Ben Becker.
“Yeah, absolutely it is,” Pai said.
She attempted to buy gas at a Gate station in St. Johns County. She tried three times, but the purchase was unsuccessful and she received no fuel.
“Later that day, I had $375 in charges frozen in my account,” Pai told Action News Jax’s Ben Becker.
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That’s right, $375 for gas she never had – what seemed like three different charges of $125 each.
“At first I thought it was credit card skimmer or criminal fraud,” Pai said.
But it wasn’t a fraud. It was Vy Star.
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An Action News Jax investigation found that VyStar was not releasing pending holds on the accounts of some customers who made debit purchases at the gas pump.
And pending holds lasted up to three days instead of two hours, which is beyond what is allowed by Visa and Mastercard.
The result? The potential for overdraft charges on customer accounts.
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The gas station determines the amount of a pre-authorization hold to place on your card to ensure the card is valid and has sufficient funds, but a bank controls the release of the hold.
The maximum hold allowed by Visa and Mastercard was increased earlier this year from $125 to $175 due to soaring gas prices.
Patrick De Haan of Gas Buddy said people can be vulnerable to overdraft charges even if the hold is lifted by a bank within the required two hours.
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“It might not be bad to pay cash next time if you find it difficult and those credit limits have had a negative impact on you,” De Haan said.
Action News Jax first reported in May that VyStar customers were experiencing separate online and mobile banking issues that were taking a month to resolve.
VyStar told Action News Jax Investigates that this new issue began around August 10, but it’s unclear how many customers were affected.
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VyStar released a statement:
“All VyStar debit and credit card transactions at gas stations are operating as normal. Over the past week, we have learned of and investigated an isolated situation where canceled debit transactions with PIN codes at fuel pumps resulted in a suspension of up to three days.We have been working with our card processors to implement a fix to the isolated incidents of August 18.
“As is standard practice, holds are placed on pre-authorized transactions. Once the transaction is complete, the holds are immediately released. Pre-Authorization amounts vary by merchant based on a gas station’s pump sale limits. »
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According to the National Conference of State Legislatures over the past two decades, 17 states, including Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Vermont, Virginia, Wisconsin, introduced bills to regulate all kinds of debit holds.
But only Connecticut and Tennessee have laws that limit how much gas stations can hold, and they require notice when putting certain amounts on hold.
Pai contacted Vystar.
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“I was able to call the company and ask them to waive the charge,” Pai said. “But I am a lawyer and I had time to do it. Not everyone has the ability to do that.”
VyStar said if you have questions or concerns, visit a VyStar branch or call the contact center at 904-777-6000 or 800-445-6289. It is open daily from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., excluding public holidays.
Additionally, you can reach Ben Becker at [email protected].
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