Bank Error In Your Favor? No Such Thing!

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Bank Error In Your FavorDo you know what happens when the bank makes an error in you favor? Only one thing – headaches.

If you ever check your balance and notice that you received a mysterious windfall, do yourself a favor and call your bank. Tell them that a mysterious deposit just appeared on your account and that it’s not yours, they need to investigate, and resolve it quickly. The last thing you should do is spend it despite the adage “possession is nine-tenths of the law,” the money isn’t yours. If you spend it and cannot repay it, you are still liable and must pay it back.

How Bank Errors Happen

In our increasingly electronic world, many of our transactions rely on strings of numbers that can be transposed, mis-typed, fat-fingered without people realizing it. ABA bank routing numbers are nine digits, credit card numbers are sixteen digits, and bank account numbers vary in length and style. Those are a lot of numbers and a lot of chances for error. While there are fraud detection and various other prevention mechanisms in place, you can’t always prepare for or prevent human error.

What You Should Do

It’s quite simple – call your bank and tell them. There’s really no other response and you should never ever spend it even if it takes months to resolve. In the end, once the bank figures it out, you’ll have to repay the money. If in the interim you want to put it in an online savings account to earn a little extra interest, that’s acceptable (as long as you can get the funds out quickly), but never ever spend it and don’t invest it (you could lose it).

What if you try to withdraw it and run? The police will try to catch you as they did last year after a New Zealand couple discovered their bank made a $6.1 million error in their favor. Westpac Bank gave them a NZ$10,000,000 loan instead of a NZ$10,000 loan and they ran off with the money.

Have you ever been the beneficiary of a bank error in your favor?

{ 62 comments, please add your thoughts now! }

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62 Responses to “Bank Error In Your Favor? No Such Thing!”

  1. Cindy says:

    I found an extra $5,000 in my account once. Being neither a criminal nor an idiot, I called the bank and they put the money where it belonged very quickly. You wouldn’t think people would really expect to keep even a few dollars, let alone larger sums of money.

  2. Shirley says:

    Many years ago I wrote a check to a clothing store that never showed up on my statement.
    I called the store but they had no outstanding balance for me. I called the bank but they had received no check to be cashed.

    I waited six months and then added the amount back into my checkbook balance, but I always felt guilty when I went into that store.

    • cdiver says:

      Why, it is no fault of your own that they or the bank misplaced your check. Put yourself in the reverse position, would they bend over to repay you? Technically yes they should, otherwise the staledated funds must go to the government.

  3. {chortle!} Actually, one time the credit union blithely deposited TEN THOUSAND DOLLARS in my checking account!

    Silly me…instead of grabbing the money and hopping the first flight to Rio, I reported the error. They gave the money back to the guy it belonged to. 😀

  4. cubiclegeoff says:

    I’ve never had it happen. But I’ve always wondered if you would keep the interest from that money once they took it out.

    • cdiver says:

      No. The withdrawal transaction should be effective dated along with any accrued and or paid interest.

  5. fairydust says:

    I had that happen only once, and it was actually a teller counting error when I cashed a check. I didn’t realize the error until later when I got home, so I went back the next day, explained to a different teller that I’d received $20 too much when I cashed a check, and you’d think I just ruined her day. She gave out this long exasperated sigh, then said, “Well, who was the teller?” I didn’t remember a name. “Alright, fine! Give it here.” No thank you, no nothing but attitude. She made me sorry I’d bothered (although I figured it would’ve eventually come back to bite me if I didn’t turn it in). I switched out of that bank pretty shortly thereafter.

  6. Piggy bank says:

    The only banking errors I have encountered were miss counts when depositing cash. Once I deposited a few hundred dollars and I didn’t count it before I did, they gave me the receipt but it didn’t feel like it was the amount I had deposited. I went home and then decided I had to go back to see. I found out she had missed a one hundred dollar bill when counting. Learned my lesson, whenever depositing cash count it twice before doing so.

  7. I once got an email notification from my employer notifying me of the pending bank deposit reimbursing me for my recent trip to New Jersey.

    Since I had never been to New Jersey, I knew this was not intended for me. There are actually 2 other people at my company who share my name (Fortune 500 company where that sort of thing isn’t uncommon) and it was intended for one of those guys.

    I forwarded him the email with a note to the effect of “I think this is yours. You might want to follow up …”

    And, yes, the company wanted me to re-pay the money that was deposited.

  8. Split Cents says:

    I had this happen a couple times at a particular Bank of America location. After a while, I figured out that a certain teller would reliably transpose a couple numbers on my paycheck. I first noticed this when my account lost $100 one day when I had no transactions. From then on (until I started using the ATM to deposit checks), I would ask for a receipt from the deposit!

  9. poscogrubb says:

    I’ve never experienced a bank error in my favor. I’ve only experienced bank errors in the bank’s favor and my errors in the bank’s favor. Sigh.

  10. Wilma says:

    One time on the way to work I stopped at 3 ATMs and was turned down for a withdrawal because of insufficient funds. It was pay day. At the 4th ATM I asked for an account balance. $50,000 was in there plus my pay check. So after work (I worked night shift) I went to the bank. They froze my account and weren’t going to give me any money till it was fixed. I refused to leave till I got gas and grocery money. It took a week for them to move that money. They assured me that the rent check I wrote that week wouldn’t bounce. This was like 25 years ago before ATM fees for using any old ATM.

  11. Anonymous says:

    I’ve had this happen a couple times but only for small amounts. I simply didn’t touch it but I was a poor college student one time so it was tempting.

    Recently, however, my partner’s credit union made several mistakes during a couple days with his account. A branch of his credit union allows members of other credit unions to use their branch. Someone with the same account number at another credit union made deposits and withdrawals and the credit union ran all of the transactions through my partner’s account. He monitors his accounts daily and found the errors and contacted the bank immediately because the withdrawal was sizable. What we wondered, however, is that he is Asian and the branch in question is in a predominantly black neighborhood. Were all of these transactions run by an Asian man? Was ID checked?

  12. Rasca says:

    Bank errors are common. Once, I made a math error on my deposit slip by $100. Receipt had my error. But, a week later, I got a letter from Bank saying that they credited my account $100 (which was effective on next business day after my deposit). Another time, the teller made the erro in typing my deposit into her computer. She ripped me off by $45. It took me 1 hour after to look at the receipt to find that she was off by $45. I went back to the branch; and made her go through the pile of checks she received to credit my account.

    I’ve heard stories that if either you believe there’s an error (on your bank statement) that you got 60 days to write to the bank about the error; otherwise, it would be as if nothing happened. If they mistakenly deposit your account, then is there any time limits that they have to rectify there side. 6 months? A year?!?

  13. I’ve only experienced errors in the bank’s favor. When multiple checks were deposited, the teller forgot to scan one check into the system though the amount was listed correctly on my receipt. Its hard to understand how that was possible. When I checked my balance online later that night and didn’t notice the check, I called the bank’s main number and contacted the branch the next day. They eventually found the check.

  14. Actually, yes I have. I had a few extra thousand dollars deposited into my brokerage account, spent it all and was never caught. 🙂 Just joking. I called the brokerage company immediately and reported the error. They were thankful and corrected it. I’m sure this does happen a lot and would hope people take the high road.

  15. I’m astonished that this happens as frequently as my fellow commenters are mentioning. Makes you wonder how frequently banks made errors a couple of generations ago, relying solely on human data entry. (Probably fairly often, given that Parker Brothers not only noticed it but didn’t seem to attach that big a moral significance to it.)

  16. tbork84 says:

    I have never experienced a bank error in my favor, but I certainly have caught one or two that would have been in the bank’s favor.

  17. Quinton says:

    Looked at my IRA account one day online and found $350,200.00 deposited in it 2 days earlier.

    Needless to say, I know that I didn’t add it 🙁

    Took them 2 weeks to get it out of my account..

    Probably could have invested in a stock that was paying dividends that week and moved it back out before they knew :). Naa!

  18. James says:

    i have not but i have found multiple charges on my account that should not have been there.

    at times you might see some errors in your favor or against you like this article says do the right thing and let them know so it can be corrected. its the right thing to do.

  19. Kirk says:

    I’ve had bank error’s in the banks favor, but not on my checking accounts. These were on my mortgage accounts, which is a little more tricky as you can’t talk to anyone in person. I was routed over the phone and had to explain financial jargon to the people on the other end.

    Error #1: They took PMI out of my escrow, which I really hadn’t paid any attention too, since I did everything electronically. I was wondering, is this normal that they deduct PMI. Maybe they deposited PMI money and then had to remove it? My loan had LPMI (Lender-paid PMI) which is why I thought nothing of the PMI coming out until I realized it was coming out of my money and not the bank’s. Well 18 phone calls and 6 months later, we got that squared away.

    Error #2: I live in a condo, new development so the PINs took a while to get divided and then we switched PINs a few times. So the bank had the undivided PIN for my unit, and decided that for the 2009 tax year, my property tax would be the same as that of the undivided PIN from last year. So in January I get a mortgage bill requesting something like $1000/mo in escrow. I called up the bank and explained how they got their math wrong and what I should indeed be paying. Well they did the math wrong again and decided that I should have $28/mo in escrow. Needless to say I’m letting them keep that error in their favour and escrowing my own money in a money market account which I’ll deposit come tax bill time.

  20. cdiver says:

    They are never in our favor. Either we are missing money, or we are bummed that we found some but can’t keep it!

  21. plans says:

    My sister deposited a check that ended up in somebody else’s account. At first, the bank was not even willing to acknowledge it because we could not find the stub. When we found the receipt from the transaction though, they were quick to fix it.

  22. John says:

    During my banking career I used to see people take the money and run all the time. If they didn’t close their account the bank would eventually catch it and take the money back out of the account. This would often leave their account overdrawn and they couldn’t wait to complain. I find it intresting that they don’t say a word when they discover the windfall, but when it comes back out they can’t wait to run in the bank a cause a stink.

    • Louise says:

      I wrote a check to Bank of America for $585 for my credit card bill and the company said they received the money but it was never deducted from my account. I called both Bank of America and my credit union. Bank of America double checked and said the check went through fine, I called the bank and they told me that the money was never withdrawn. I called a few more times and same responses. It has been in my account for three months now. What should I do?

      • Jason says:

        I’m in similar situation. Have you resolved the problem yet, if so, what happened?

        • Liz says:

          The same thing just happened to me! I made a payment on my credit card using the transfer feature online; from my checking account to the credit account. The money went out of my checking account just fine but the credit card double-credited the amount! Now, I have a serious negative balance but the bank says that the one time payment was done just fine – its a credit card error. Having a serious moral quandry here… Has this ever happened to anyone? If so, what to what end?

  23. I don’t remember any bank errors in my favor. I do remember withdrawing $200 and then checking my account online the next day to find $400 with deducted. Luckily it was pretty easy to get fixed.

  24. Johnny Belmont says:

    Yeah I just got an extra 700 bucks in my acc.
    What are the chances it’ll get traced and found.

  25. Adrian says:

    whell i put on my acc. 2.500 and i cheked the saving book i saw 25 and few zero…i wasn’t worried, few days later i realise that it was writen 25 000 , one zero more till now i didn’t chek again the account i left the situation like this thinking that the bank will solve the situation .the thing is that i need so much this money …i think to take them out and when they realise and whant it back …to pay it monthely back! any opinions ? (escuse my english)

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