I-Team10 Update: David versus Goliath

Posted at: 05/21/2013 10:53 AM
Updated at: 05/21/2013 5:48 PM
By: Berkeley Brean

You know the story of David versus Goliath. In this case -- David is couple in Greece that made a simple but costly key-stroke mistake when they paid their mortgage online. Instead of their regular $1,300 payment, the withdraw was $13,000.
For weeks -- the couple said their mortgage company was giving them the runaround and refused to refund the money.

So that's when the couple contacted the I-Team.

The I-Team immediately contacted the mortgage company -- Citi Mortgage. We asked them how could they, for weeks, keep money from a massive overpayment that was obviously a mistake?

After our investigation tonight, David wins.

It was an honest mistake. Lisa Beckford was busy and trying to pay her bills on line.

"I put in the amount for the mortgage and I put in an extra zero," Lisa said. "It went from a little over $1,300 to $13,000."

Lisa admits she confirmed the payment but didn't realize the mistake until she got an alert on her phone early the next morning.

"It said a withdraw had been made on my account of $13,000 and change and I freaked out," she said.

Lisa and Paul Beckford ran to the bank that morning. They say that started a two week nightmare dealing with their mortgage company -- Citi Mortgage. They say they were told there's no such thing as a refund.

"When a customer service rep from Citi Mortgage told me well, that was a voluntary payment. You made that payment. You're admitting to the mistake, so you made the mistake. It's a voluntary payment. We're Keeping your money," Lisa said.

"That that doesn't seem right. Ethically it doesn't seem right,' Paul said.

Out of options -- the Beckfords contacted the I-Team. We contacted Citi Mortgage and asked them if a customer admits to making a mistake, why can't you give them a refund? Here's what they wrote back:

"In the event of an overpayment, we must conduct a thorough review to ensure the transaction was legitimate and not related to any fraudulent activity. The process may take some time to complete. In this case, funds were refunded to customers within approximately two weeks. There was some miscommunication with the borrowers, and we apologize for any confusion. We are pleased the matter has now been resolved."

But the Beckford's say the fact is they told Citi Mortgage is was a mistake from the beginning.

The good news here is that hours after we contacted Citi Mortgage, the company called the Beckford's to say they were refunding their over-payment immediately.

"I was so relieved. So relieved," Lisa said. "But in the same breath I had a bad taste in my mouth from the experience I went through."

There's a good lesson here:

When you're paying bills online, double check your digits and decimal points. And check with your bank to see if you can impose a limit on particular payments so a massive over-payment like this would be stopped at the source. That's what the Beckford's are doing right now.

We have a few more tips to help you

- most banks allow you to set up a recurring payment schedule, that way the same amount of money comes out every month.
- you can also get text alerts to warn you about unusual transactions.
- there are confirmation steps built into just about every on-line payment.