Visa computer error leads to US$23 quadrillion overdraft

By Iain Thomson on Jul 16, 2009 3:21 PM
Filed under Technology

Pack of cigarettes costs $23,148,855,308,184,500.

A computer error has led to some Visa prepaid credit card holders being charged enormous sums for simple purchases.

A New Hampshire man stopped at his local petrol station to buy a packet of cigarettes using a prepaid Visa card. Checking his balance online a few hours later he found the cigarettes had cost him US$23,148,855,308,184,500, plus a US$15 charge for going overdrawn.

"I thought somebody had bought Europe with my credit card," Josh Muszynski told local television station WMUR.

"It is a lot of money in the negative, something I could never, ever, afford to pay back. My children could not afford it, grandchildren, nothing like that. "

He spent two hours on the phone to Bank of America questioning the charge and it has now been removed from his account, along with the overdraft fee.

The amount, many times the US national debt, was added to his bill by a computer glitch that has now been rectified according to Visa. The problem occurred with a temporary programming error at the Visa Debit Processing Services the company said.

“Late yesterday, July 13, a temporary programming error at Visa Debit Processing Services, caused some transactions to be inaccurately posted to a small number of Visa prepaid accounts,” said the company in a statement.

“The technical glitch, which impacted fewer than 13,000 Visa prepaid transactions, has been corrected and erroneous postings have been removed. Importantly, this incident had no financial impact on Visa prepaid cardholders.”

“Visa regrets any inconvenience to our customers and has taken immediate steps to ensure this error doesn't occur again.”

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Visa computer error leads to US$23 quadrillion overdraft
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