BELLAIR BEACH (FOX 13) -
Customers of Florida Blue are reporting the insurer has mistakenly withdrawn hundreds of even thousands of dollars from their accounts, leaving many of them severely withdrawn.
When Mark Lopresti pays his bills, he prefers to write a check and drop the return envelope in the mail.
But, when his latest Florida Blue statement didn't arrive on time, he reluctantly agreed to do it electronically.
"Today, at 3:00, I received a 'low account balance' alert from my bank," Lopresti said.
"Low" would be an understatement.
"It was thousands and thousands and thousands of dollars overdrawn. Tens of thousands overdrawn," Lopresti said.
A closer look at his bank statement revealed a big problem.
Florida Blue had processed his payment a whopping 74 times, withdrawing nearly $89,000.
"It was surreal. I had other things going on at the time and I was still processing," Lopresti said.
Lopresti is watching his bank account closely, waiting for the numbers to rise back where they belong.
But after all of this, he said he's ready to find another carrier.
"Some people should be fired right now," Lopresti said. "I'm just thankful I am in a better situation where I can handle it but you know, there's a lot of people out there who, this is everything they have and everything they need for this month."
Florida Blue didn't say how many customers were affected or give a timeline as to when they expect everyone's accounts to be replenished.
However, the process has started.
We spoke with a St. Pete woman who had been charged 33 times and her account was negative more than $4,000.
She said that by Monday afternoon, Florida Blue had refunded her money.
Social media channels for Florida Blue are filling up with complaints from users around the state, reporting that they were repeatedly billed for what should have been a one-time premium payment.
"Thanks Florida Blue for taking out my $650 premium over 76 times making me $50,000 overdrawn," one user complained.
"Florida Blue has debited my business account 105 times today, totaling over $45,000," another wrote.
"Thanks Florida Blue for taking out my $650 premium over 76 times making me $50,000 overdrawn," a third person said.
In a Facebook post, the Jacksonville-based insurer acknowledged an “issue” and they say they are working to resolve the problem.
"We’re sorry! We’re working to fix an issue w/the payment system ASAP. Please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org so we can help you," the post stated.
A more detailed statement from the company listed steps being taken and included a pledge to repay all overdraft fees:
"Earlier today we were notified of a payment processing issue that occurred over the weekend with one of our vendors. This issue resulted in some members' accounts being drafted multiple times for their May invoice. We are very sorry for the problems this is causing our members. We are addressing the situation as quickly as possible.
In the meantime, we are taking the following actions:
We are working to identify all overpayments proactively and refund them promptly. We will ensure that only the appropriate amount is deducted and excess deductions are refunded. In fact, we have already begun processing refunds for some customers.
We will reimburse members for any bank fees incurred due to overdrafts caused by this issue. We will work on an individual basis with any member who has concerns about adverse impact on their credit.
We have stopped taking electronic fund transfer payments for the time being and have delayed ongoing automatic payments scheduled for this month until we understand the issue and ensure it is corrected.
Since members currently will not be able to make payments, we will not cancel a policy for nonpayment until the issue is resolved.
During this time, we will ensure that people who need care are able to get it, even if they are unable to make premium payments as a result of this issue.
We apologize for the problems this situation has created for our members. We commit to addressing it quickly and making things right for the people we serve."