Gas stations putting holds on bank cards?

Knoxville (WVLT) - Some local gas stations are putting holds higher than a hundred dollars on your bank account when you use a debit card.

Consumer advocate groups tell us this is something gas stations do to make sure they get their full amount of the gas purchase, but it could cause you to bounce other transactions.

Robert Martin's wife swiped her debit card at a raceway gas pump in Sweetwater. He says the pump didn't work, so she canceled the transaction and left. At home she logged onto her online banking.

"She pulled it up and there was a 75 dollar hold on the gas she was supposed to get that morning," Martin said.

Here's what's happening. When you swipe your debit card as a credit card--and don't type your pin number--your transaction isn't processed immediately. A 75, 100, or 125 dollar hold is placed on your account.

"Used to be holds were smaller but when gas doubled and increased max amount pumped at pump it increased the amount they hold," said Ed Mierzwinski from the US Public Interest Research Group.

The hold remains until the gas station tells their credit card company how much you really bought--which could be one, two or several days later.

"In modern computerized world there's no reason why banks shouldn't require the merchants to clear transactions every single day," Mierzwinski said.

The problem could cause issues for consumers with a limited amount of money in their checking account. Robert says he waited 5 days for the hold on his bank account to clear.

"I think it's bad something should be done about it," Martin said.

Nothing is being done to stop the holds placed on bank accounts, but the U.S. Public Interest Research Group is trying to stop banks from penalizing the consumer.

"Next year, I think the Federal Reserve will prohibit banks from bouncing other checks from holds which are completely unfair to consumer," Mierzwinski said.

Until then Robert and his wife will be using credit cards at the gas pump. PIRG says this could also happen at restaurants and hotels.

Consumers advocates groups advise you to use a credit card, cash, or a gas card when purchasing gas so you won't get a hold put on your account.

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