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Handling Bank Errors In Your Favor

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Bank Error In Your Favor? Don't Think So!Jonathan at MyMoneyBlog just wrote about a PA couple that spent a windfall of a bank error that made me shake my head. Apparently the PA couple deposited $1,772.50 and the bank erroneously recorded it as a $177,250 deposit. They withdrew the money, quit their jobs, and moved to Florida… they’ve now been arrested. Clearly they knew what they were doing was wrong, otherwise they wouldn’t have skipped town, but bank errors happen all the time, what are you supposed to do?

The answer is easy: call the bank. Whether it’s in your favor or in the bank’s favor, the answer is to call the bank and ask for clarification on the error. Banks have sophisticated tracking systems that will have the records required to resolve the problem. If you deposited deposited $20 and the bank recorded $200, they will find out whenever they service the ATM and audit the records. On the flip side, let’s say you deposited $200 and they recorded $20, a simple phone call should resolve the issue or at least open an investigation. In the end, banks will figure it out and make things right.

I see this issue as pretty black and white, do you agree or disagree with my thoughts on this? Have you had an experience where the bank messed up and the situation stayed messed up?

{ 21 comments, please add your thoughts now! }

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21 Responses to “Handling Bank Errors In Your Favor”

  1. Miranda says:

    I think that you should let the bank know if it is in your favor because it’s the ethical thing to do. But, beyond that, as you say, the bank is going to figure it out eventually and correct the problem. So if you just go along your way and spend the $200…Well you’ll have a rather unpleasant surprise down the road.

    Banks do make errors, so it is always important to check your records against what you see from the bank.

  2. Start-Up says:

    I take corrective action if I was losing money due to a bank error. If I was gaining money I would put it into a savings account that earned interest and treat it as a short term 0% interest loan until the bank contacted me. If it was a rather large error I would probably contact the bank, and I would definitely not quit my job, move and then plead ignorance.

  3. tom says:

    Interesting article.

    I personally don’t like some of these charges banks have but that was my choice for picking them.

    Anyways, the best thing to do is be cautious and keep track of your financial’s often.

  4. Michele says:

    I made a tax payment to city for courtesy withholding last year, it was for $56 and some change. 6 months later the check still had not cleared. I called the city and they told me that they got the money. The check never came back to us. A year later it still has not.

    I called our bank and they basically told me that there was no reason to pursue it further, because banks did not waste time auditing for such a small amount (under $100). Sometimes it just happens. Apparently more often than we realize. However, if a large amount was deposited in my account, I would make every effort to return it.

  5. Black and white, whether a cashier gives me too much change at the grocery or the bank makes an error in my favor, the money’s not mine & I’m going to return it.

  6. Fred says:

    I would just tell the bank. Its a black and white issue.

  7. thomas says:

    yes, it is a Mike Jackson song.

  8. AverageJoe says:

    Very simple…..you know the money’s not yours, don’t spend it and alert the bank. Otherwise you are stealing!

    I’ve also seen a deposit mistakenly go into the wrong person’s account. Once the bank catches the error, takes the money back and deposits it to the correct account, the account that received the money in error is sometimes overdrawn! When that customer is contacted to take care of the overdraft, they usually blame the bank and disclaim any responsibility for making good on their excessive withdrawals. That’s when their account goes to collections.
    This is not really about windfalls. It’s about character and ethical behavior.

    On a positive note, I’ve seen a customer make a withdrawal from a teller, go home, realize they got $20 too much, and come back to the branch to give the money back to the teller so they don’t get in trouble for their drawer being short at the end of the day.

    Quick survey–would you do that if it happened to you? I’m pretty sure I would, for $20…..what about you?

  9. MoneyNing says:

    My friend had this happen to her. She actually got almost $1 million but after a few days, the money went right back out.

    I agree with you that it’s pretty black and white though and it’s pretty obvious that they will catch it.

    It’s also interesting though that people think they can live “happily ever after” with only $177k. If both the husband and wife were working, that might be only something like 2 years worth of salary.

  10. Tom says:

    Banks always find the error eventually.
    And when they do, you better make sure the money is still there.
    It’s pretty black and white.

  11. Squidman says:

    OK, so what happens if the supermarket cashier rings up an item incorrectly in your favor? Let’s say you buy radicchio and the cashier rings it up as red cabbage (happens to me all the time). It’s there job to get it right not mine.

  12. @Squidman – If I see it, I correct it. More frequently, it’s the other way around, though. If you’re going to correct over charges, you have to correct under charges too!

  13. I can’t believe they would quit their jobs and move away for $1,500! Jeeze, what would they have done for more?

  14. loraine says:

    I had a 70K cd in a feral credit and someone reported me decease 3-24-08. I the records was supeoaned by judge and still did not get all info. And my money is gone

  15. Tempted says:

    I’ll be heading to the bank today after work to report an error in my favor!I’m getting ready to close on a home and the day before signing the DOCs, I went to the bank to purchase a cashier’s check for my settlement costs. The teller misspelled Fidelity and had to reprint the check again. At signing, we realized the teller had given me an “Official Check” rather than a “Cashier’s Check” which according to the title company funds in three days contrary to Cashier’s check which funded immediately. I went back to the bank to change the “Official Check” to a “Cashier’s Check.” I sent off the DOCs and all was well until this morning when I logged on to my account and noted that the teller redeposited the money from the Official Check and didn’t deduct for the “Cashier’s Check.” I will do the right thing but…………oh so tempting since my new home needs repairs! No amount is a big enough amount risking going to jail for….

  16. Tanasia says:

    I deposited my paycheck and soon after right around bonus time, there was an additional deposit around the same amount. I called an old co worker about the bonus and she said not to discuss with other employees. A soon as my boss came back I thanked her and she had no clue what I was talking about. Next thing I know, the bank caught the error that they posted my check twice and then reversed it leaving me neg almost 900.00. Now they are saying I have to pay it back because I knew the money was not mine and I spent it. I said I had no reason to think it was not mine, it was at bonus time, which we got today instead of the two weeks ago when this happened and if I really thought it was a mmistake I would have taken all the money out that day and ran and I didnt, I paid my bills as normal leavingmyself a positive balance…what do I do

  17. Amber says:

    I had 330 deposited into my account and I have called the bank several times, each time they said the issue is resolved and the money should be gone next time I look, I am getting afraid that they may be taking it out more than once so I stopped calling. What am I supposed to do?

  18. Rick says:

    I had $37,000 extra put into my account 3 months ago and no one has ever contacted me.

  19. juls says:

    the bank made a mistake in my checking acct. and can not find the missing 1,000.00 of our money what can I do about this we need the money to pay next months rent. can anyone help us on how to go about this. we are the ones out the money not the bank

  20. diane says:

    My daughter had £850 arrive in her bank account. She contacted the bank and they told her it was monies put into her account by international transfer. She doesnt know where the money comes from but cant pay it back as she doesnt know who to pay it back to. What can she do?? She is very worried.

  21. beaver that left it says:

    banks used to be kool, many years ago. now all they want is money and give no interest. savings bonds are now the biggest waste of money ever. a scam to put it nicely. we the people rock, so finders keepers. we’ll buy a monocle and a top hat and buy boardwalk with that extra loot. bling bling. its the right thing to do and the american way. money by any means necessary. god bless.


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