As a result of a recent series of posts on Don Ray Williams' Chiriqui Chatter, I have had contact with a Panamanian "in the loop" on ATM machines in Panama. I would appreciate, to share with him, problems any of you may  have encountered, particularly those where you receive no money but nonetheless have your account debited. It is important to know whether your unsuccessful withdrawal was from a Panamanian bank or from an offshore bank and what you had to do to recover your money. It is my understanding thus far that Telerid, the company that controls the software and management of ATMs, are working to resolve problems. But they need more information about exactly what the problems are and how they currently are being resolved (or not). Your input is invited.

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I tried twice to take money out of the multi-bank in Boquete and both times received an error. So walked down to Banco General and tried to take money out but receive an insufficient funds notice. When I got home I found out that both times at multi-bank that even though I'd received an error it had debited the money from my account. I called my bank and they told me these problems usually clear themselves overnight when the ATMs are processed -- mine didn't and called the bank the next day and they immediately credited my money back and I guess notified multi-bank.

I read sometime back where this problem (account debited and no money) was attributed to communications issues with state side accounts due too older telephone modems used by many ATM's.  I do not recall the sequence of operations that take place but it was suggested as the reason that local local ATM machines have the money dispensing sensor bypassed.  Personally I think some form of skimming scam in this food chain is more likely simply because of the prevalence of the problem.



PS I'd love to see a poll on how many times this has happened to folks (put me down for 3) and if the money was credited, by whom and how long it took.

Plastic isn't an issue and is much safer than keeping lots of money on hand running the risk of being stolen or lost. Plastic is also much more convenient than having to go to a local bank to pull money out by waiting in line (which isn't an option for me since I don't have a local bank account and don't see the need to open one up). I withdraw enough money out as needed based on my anticipated spending over the next 4 to 7 days so never have very much on my -- ATM fees are reimbursed by my bank so it doesn't cost me.

As I said above when the money was debited from my account but I didn't receive the cash from the ATM the money and fees charged were back in my account the next day -- no issues, no problem.

Good idea, of course, and one I'm probably going to implement it unless and until Telered solves this problem. It takes three weeks for a U.S. check written to my Panamanian bank to clear, but that can be overcome by planning ahead. If I then use the ATM at my Panamanian bank, an added benefit is there will be no ATM fees at all. Being without an ATM card altogether, though, doesn't appeal because are times you need money when you're not near the bank or when the bank is closed.

Having a Panamanian bank account is not an option for tourists, however. And there are retirees who don't have sufficient cash reserves to transfer a chunk of money or withstand the time it takes a check to clear. I'm of the view that this situation of having your money taken without reasonable recourse is an outrage, particularly given the institution of the ATM charge.

Bonnie and others we use Global and do not have a checking account, only savings.

Most of my ATM withdrawals are on my US account (credit Union) No problems what so ever with ATM  in fact transaction made at Global ATM 4 hr ago has already cleared my US account.  I here many are conplaining of the same two banks here.




Although Multibank appears to be the prime culprit here, the Chiriqui Chatter thread indicates it's a much more widespread problem. See

One of the times this happened to me - it was with my clave, from HSBC, so its not just overseas banks.


Carrying money around and writing checks is not convenient for me.

also, nwere cards have 'risks' built in..

received this today.


 BAD News on electronic pickpocketing!

If you know about this already you are in fat city. If you dont then pay attention!!

This is R E A L!!!  It happens.


 Here are the links in case the embeded dont work.


(the video news URL)


(where to buy protectors)

I bought one of these protectors when I went to Spain last year as I had read that electronic pickpocketing is particularly prevalent in Barcelona. I don't use it here in Panama, but perhaps I should.

mid January I used the ATM at HSBC in Boquete with my clave card to withdraw money from my Panamanian bank.... I received a message that my bank was off-line, so received no cash, yet my account was debited. Went to HSBC the next day and they told me I had to contact my bank (in David). So had to go to David. Transaction was reversed but not the ATM fee, which is not worth my time and gas.

The communication with  stateside is one of my top suspicions. When the modem connects the request, verification, and debit is done all at once rather than waiting for a successful cash dispense to debit.

In any case this really sucks. It could be they are just saving money on phone bills as the connect time would be cut considerable. Put me down for 3 times no ATM money. Time to get a credit varied from one phone call to 3 months depending on bank.

The simple solution to not use plastic certainly won't work for tourists and people who don't have a credit line.

Yes, Kodiak's P.S. is exactly what I'm looking for. I encourage people to respond because this information will be used to try to rectify the problem. My source indicates that Telerid absolutely is interested in doing so because they recognize that they will lose business otherwise. The more evidence of dissatisfied customers, the more likely change will come sooner rather than later.

BTW, it is my understanding that the money sensor is not disabled. In fact, it has a mechanism which connects with Panamanian banks so as to automatically re-credit the account in the event that no cash is dispensed. The mechanism does NOT connect with offshore banks, however, as Pantah suggests. Hence, all the aggravation of contacting one's home bank and that bank communicating with the Panama bank. The amount of time necessary to re-credit the account depends on whether or not the foreign bank has good communication pathways with banks in Panama.


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