Accidental bill overpayments can be tough to get back

THE VILLAGES, Fla. — A Lake County woman overpaid her cable provider by more than $1,700, but the company only offered credit.

Six months later, she contacted Action 9′s Todd Ulrich for help.

“I don’t understand why they feel that they can keep the money. It doesn’t belong to them,” Barbara Liles said.

Liles made a mistake while using her bank’s online bill pay feature.

“I was in a hurry. It was my error,” Liles said.

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Liles meant to pay $1,725 of her Capital One credit card bill, but she accidentally paid her CenturyLink bill. She called their cable provider about the mistake the same day.

“She said, ‘Well, it’s already been cleared, so I can’t stop the payment,’” Liles said she heard from the CenturyLink representative.

CenturyLink told Liles she would get her money back if she had a bank statement showing the money had cleared her account. Liles said she did that, but CenturyLink gave her a $1,700 credit instead.

Liles said she’s on a fixed income, and six months had been too long to wait for a refund. “I haven’t had a phone call, text, email, nothing from them.”

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Action gets many complaints from consumers who have difficulty getting money back after they’ve accidentally overpaid a credit card, cell or cable bill.

Two years ago, an Orlando family contacted Action 9 after their elderly father accidentally overpaid his credit card by $160,000.

After Ulrich contacted Bank of America, the family was able to get all their money back.

Consumer experts say a bank or service company can delay refunds until they eliminate possible fraud, but after a week, there’s no excuse. The federal reserve requires banks to refund overpayment within seven days of receiving notification from the consumer.

Two days after Ulrich contacted CenturyLink, Liles got all her money back.

“I hope they’re not treating other customers this way,” Liles said.

If it happens to you, send a copy of your bank statement by certified mail with a 7-day refund demand. Also, send a complaint to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

Todd Ulrich

Todd Ulrich,

I am WFTV's Action 9 Reporter.