Not sure who this will be useful for…maybe just adds to the knowledge base for the future.
In Brazil recently I tried to use ATM machines to withdraw cash using my visa card. Normally I have no problems. At Banco Do Brasil…I went through the whole procedure, card in, amount requested, card in again, enter PIN, wait…etc etc and then got a message – “unable to communicate with bank” (at home). I tried it again just assuming it was a glitch and then again later that day a couple of times.
Next day I tried again and this time got a message that I had “insufficient funds.” I checked on line and there was about $2000 in transactions waiting to be posted – indeed my available balance was zero!! I assumed that somehow my card had been hacked or cloned as I had heard from someone else (though I only ever use it at ATMs inside guarded bank branches in Brazil) and so cancelled my card. Very inconvenient.
I have now discovered that each time, I made one of these “unsuccessful transactions” (i.e. I received no cash), Banco Do Brazil posted the requested debit to my Visa card. Since I made at least five of these unsuccessful “cannot communicate” transactions that took my whole balance. The money has now re-appeared without any intervention but it took about a week.
I guess the advice is that if the network is down and you get a message like this, check your balance online immediately afterwards. If there is a debit that you have not made which is the same as your attempted withdrawal, then it is unlikely to be fraud and calling your bank and checking with them before automatically canceling your card…and have more money on a backup card than I did!!