Nova Scotia

Halifax-area couple seeks answers after they say credit union misplaced $10K

A couple from Portuguese Cove, N.S., says Credit Union Atlantic did not complete a wire transfer for them, and then offered no explanation as to why their money was missing for four weeks.

Credit Union Atlantic says the matter has been handled, but couple says they still don't know what went wrong

Alexandria and Stephen White sent a $10,000 transfer on June 17, but 4 weeks later, the money was still missing. They ended up sending another transfer via TD that reached the recipient in 3 days. (Submitted by Alexandria White)

A couple from Portuguese Cove, N.S., says a credit union lost $10,000 of their money for a month, and still has no explanation why.

Alexandria White said it started with an attempt to help her mother, who faced an unexpected financial challenge at home in California.

"It was our hard-earned money to send to my mom because she's going through some hard times," said White. "We figured, let's help her out."

Wire transfer wait

On June 17, White's husband, Stephen, sent a wire transfer for $10,000 from his business account at the Credit Union Atlantic branch on Herring Cove Road. 

When the money failed to arrive, White said they began to worry.

But she said the credit union, known simply as CUA, couldn't help. 

"They said they can't trace the money until the two-week mark," White said. 

She said her mother got no help from her local credit union branch in the U.S.

"The person on the phone that she was speaking to said, 'I'm actually quite embarrassed to talk about it, but it does take some time for the money to get to you because the money goes from bank to bank to bank to bank,'" White said. 

Missing money

Eventually, White sent another $10,000 wire transfer to her mother — this time from her account at TD. 

That reached her mother in three days. 

White says she and her husband support the community focus of credit unions, which has made the ordeal particularly disappointing. (Carolyn Ray/CBC)

But after four weeks, the money sent from CUA was still missing. 

"We asked them what are the steps that they're taking to at least recover the money, to find out where the money is. And they're just saying, 'We don't know, the trace hasn't come back yet,'" White said. 

Money returned

White said she finally received some good news on July 16, a day after CBC News contacted CUA for comment. 

"One minute they were like, 'No credit.' Then within an hour they said, 'The money would be in your account in the next 60 to 90 minutes,'" she said. 

White doesn't think CUA should provide wire transfers if it can't match the speed and reliability of other institutions. She said she and her husband are especially disappointed because they support the community focus of credit unions. 

Credit Union Atlantic told CBC News it could not provide more details on why something like this happened. (Carolyn Ray/CBC)

"It's a shame because they're supposed to be ... very reputable. Isn't it, like, the 'shop local' of banks?" she said. 

'Unique elements'

A spokesperson for CUA wouldn't discuss the details of what happened to the wire transfer, citing privacy concerns. 

"I have been advised that this item had been discussed with the member and the matter was resolved," said Amanda Mueller, manager of sales and member experience, in an emailed statement. 

"There are some complexities and unique elements in this particular situation that due to confidentiality and privacy reasons, we are unable to communicate."

Lack of recourse

White said she felt helpless during the month-long wait because there didn't appear to be any mechanism to get help.

"We asked them, 'How do we file a formal complaint?' They gave us the branch manager's number and stuff like that," White said. 

"We don't want to talk to the branch manager.  We want to file a formal complaint against Credit Union Atlantic."

According to its website, CUA serves 20,000 members from eight branches in the Halifax region. 

It's one of 23 provincially regulated credit unions. 

The Nova Scotia Credit Union Deposit Insurance Corporation and the Office of the Superintendent of Credit Unions have the power to investigate consumer complaints, said Michelle Stevens, a spokesperson for Nova Scotia's Department of Finance and Treasury Board.

"Any credit union member can reach out directly to the Office of the Superintendent of Credit Unions, the Nova Scotia Credit Union Deposit Insurance Corporation," she said. 

Credit Unions Atlantic Canada also offers an ombud service that can be contacted at ombudspersonservice@aclsm.ca.

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