Inaccurate mobile banking balances are a costly problem

According to the Federal Reserve, 20 percent of bank customers use mobile banking and that number could grow to 40 percent by the end of the year.

People rely on their bank's mobile app to keep them informed about how much money is in their account. A Leonardtown, Maryland man called 7 On Your Side claiming his app didn't work and it cost him hundreds of dollars.

It all started with a little blue box and a well-intended surprise on a girlfriend’s birthday.

“As far as I knew, when I made that purchase at Tiffany’s, I had plenty of money in my account and I based my spending on what the PNC app said, and it was wrong, and the bank refuses to believe that,” said Michael Shea.

But it appears the information on the app might not have been up to date, because when the charge was debited, it over-drew Shea's account—and he ended up with more than $300 in overdraft fees.

"I've never had an overdraft with PNC before and I've never had a problem with the app misrepresenting what’s in my account," Shea says.

PNC officials would not discuss Shea’s situation specifically—citing privacy rules, but told us the app provides up-to-date information.

Debits and withdrawals are often processed overnight, which could alter the available balance. Therefore, PNC says it is the customer’s responsibility to independently maintain accurate records—including how much cash is available. The bank then refunded more than half of Michael's overdraft fees.

“I was happy to get what I got. I'd still like the rest of it back,” Shea said.

PNC told 7 On Your Side: “Customers who keep accurate records of their account balances will never pay an overdraft fee.”

It was a costly lesson for Shea, as that little blue box came with a bigger price than planned. On the upside, his girlfriend loved her present—and that’s something you can’t put a price on.

Here's the text from the Account Agreement for Personal Checking, Savings and Money Market Accounts:

"You acknowledge that we provide daily access to account information regarding account balances and transactions as a customer service but that the accuracy of such account information is subject to any pending or unprocessed transactions about which only you have knowledge. You agree that it is your duty and responsibility to maintain your Account in a responsible manner by independently maintaining accurate records of your activity, including, but not limited to, checks, debit card transactions, withdrawals and deposits."

It is given to every person opening an account and is available online here.