12 OYS: Simple debit card transaction could leave your money in limbo

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News 12 at 6 o'clock / June 11, 2014

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW) -- Pearly Landers said she is lucky to have a roof over her head after getting booted out of the hotel she has called home for the past 2 months.

"I always paid weekly. I never owed them nothing," Landers said.

She paid $177 every seven days, and said she always pays in person.

"On June 5, I had called them to pay it off my debit card," Landers said.

She said she was told her card was declined. Landers immediately called her bank to find out what was wrong.

"My balance was $386.18," Landers said.

So, that still would have left her with about $210 in her account. Landers' bank statement shows she has 3 pending transactions. which adds up to all the money she had in her account.

"I could see if it was something I had done to screw the situation up, but it wasn't my fault," Landers said.

News 12 wanted to know why her card was declined if the funds were there. We contacted the hotel spokesperson. He told us Landers gave them several billing addresses, and because none of them matched the information associated with the card, all the transactions were declined.

"It's not like I had a thousand dollars I could just fall back on and not worry about it," Landers said.

Consumer experts say avoid debit card holds. To do that, never use your debit card as a credit card. Always use the option that requires putting in your pin. As for Landers, she has learned her lesson.

"Be careful paying with your card for one thing," Landers said.

To clarify, the hotel in this case did nothing wrong. In fact the owner told us after Landers account was declined, they offered her an additional night free of charge.

If this kind of situation ever happens to you, there are options. You could ask the business to contact the bank which would could expedite releasing those funds back to your card. The second option is to wait it out which could take longer to get your money back.

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