We all dream of receiving an unexpected windfall, but if you did receive an erroneous payment into your bank account - would you ever be able to keep it?
In a nutshell: ‘No’. From a legal viewpoint, if a sum of money is accidentally paid into your bank or savings account and you know that it doesn’t belong to you, then you must pay it back.
Unfortunately, life is not like Monopoly and, if you received a bank error in your favour and spend it, you are far more likely to go directly to jail than collect £200.
Keeping any money wrongly credited to your account, could lead to you being charged with ‘Retaining wrongful credit’. The 1968 Theft act defines this as: "A person is guilty of theft if he dishonestly appropriates property belonging to another with the intention of permanently depriving the other of it".
It goes on to say that: "A person is guilty of an offence if:
(a) a wrongful credit has been made to an account kept by him or in respect of which he has any right or interest;
There appear to be two kinds of the classic ‘money received in error’ story: either a bank or individual accidentally paying money into your account or being overpaid by your employer. No matter how tempting it is, do not immediately go out and spend your windfall like a lottery winner.
Try to learn from the fate of a woman from Blackburn who, upon receiving £135,000 in error from the Abbey bank, went on a spending spree and ended up being sentenced to 10 months in prison. Or the New Zealand couple who fled the country with $6 million after wrongly being given a NZ $10 million overdraft and are now the subject of an international manhunt.
If you do receive an unexpected windfall then you should always inform your bank immediately. Waiting for the bank to notice their mistake could take weeks and during that time the temptation to spend will be harder to resist.
Even though it may be extremely tempting to hang on to it, try to think of it from the point of view of the person whose money it actually is. It might belong to someone who needs it desperately, like a pensioner needing the money to pay for their heating bill. Have a think about how you would feel if the roles were reversed and it was your money sitting in someone else’s account.
There have been some exceptional cases where individuals have been allowed to keep money accidently paid to them. These tend to fall into one of two categories:
Another approach where people have benefitted from their windfall, is to put it in a separate savings account and earn interest until the error is rectified by the bank or the rightful owner has been tracked down. This strategy was successfully adopted by a postal worker in the US who received a pay rise that he knew he wasn’t entitled to and immediately informed his supervisors of their error.
While he waited for the situation to be resolved, he banked his pay rise in a separate savings account to accrue interest. It was three years before his employers corrected their mistake and despite having to pay back all the money that he was overpaid, his financial savvy meant that he ended keeping nearly £500 in interest earned.
Don’t be tempted to spend your windfall even if no-one contacts you immediately. Banks regularly carry out audits which means that ‘the man’ will always catch up with you sooner rather than later.
Honesty is always the best policy and, by informing your bank or employer promptly, you could even find yourself on the receiving end of a reward.
Hi dear,I am in a same situation. I transfered 10,000 pounds from my business account with Ltsb to my personal account in Halifax, but by mistake it has gone to some wrong account in halifax. There is only one digit difference account and also account name is mine. Its a big ammount, i dont know if i can get it back or not. If bank can take this issue as fraud? what UK law say about this? Please help me in this mater. Thanks
Hello,I transfered a sum of money ( large ) and by error put the wrong bank details in but the right beneficiary's name the money was deposited into the account details account and the money has been removed and spent by the wrong beneficiary. Banks are not being helpful! Police are now involved as this is theft on the beneficary's part.Did anyone get anywhere trying to get the money back??
Hi, I also have a similar dispute with Ltsb. I pay my landlord each month who has the same name as a client of mine. Last year I got a call from my landlord stating he hadnt had any money for 10 months and I owed him to the sum of ?10,000. It appeared that instead of putting the money into my landlord's account ltsb through internet banking had put it into the clients account instead. Lloyds told me they couldnt just put the money back into my account but had to ask the other people if they would give the money back. The clients must have laughed out loud at that one and didnt get back.
Ltsb have been very negligent they even told me when I wanted to talk to their complaints department that they no longer had one. This was a blatant lie.
Im not holding my breath for my money back but im going to give all concerned a run for their money but im still down ?10,000 which is a lot of money for me to have had to pay back.
hi ,i am payed weekly and the bank my employer uses accidently payed my wages in twice . is it up to me to contact thier bank
Hi andydo. If you are honest, then you will let your employers know. If they find out later that you didnt tell them, then I doubt they will look kindly on you. I dont know what type of job you have, but it may be in the future that there may be opportunities to progress your career, in which case, they will not look at you favourably if you were not honest in this instance. Treat people as you would like to be treated.
hi judysa, i didn`t give you all the details. my employer has said that only one payment has left thier account and its not their problem and my bank (llyodstsb) has said its up to my employers bank (rbs) to contact them.
In that case, I would put the money aside - but dont spend it because eventually they will come back for it. They only need an auditor to spot it.
Hi, I received over £1,000 in to my bank, I have asked the bank if they can trace who it is from, and they cannot tell me who put in. Do I have to wait forever, for someone to try and trace their missing money?
judysa, I was paid by my employer each week for absence due to illness. Now, they have said it was accidentally paid but I genuinely believed it was at the discretion of management I be paid each week and didn't mention it. In fact, I believe they knew the money was being paid every week but are now claiming it to be an accident. What's your advice on that?
Finally I have received my money from bank by the involvement of financial ombedudman
what if money is from a company ? say electrics supplier?
Hi dear,I transfered using on line banking 11,000 pounds from my business account with Ltsb to my personal account in Halifax, but unfortunatly by mistake I transposed two digits and money has gone to some wrong valid account in halifax. Transaction was done on my name. Halifax says they have stopped that account but your funds have been used ?. They have written a letter to that customer but there is no reply . Its a big amount, i dont know if i can get it back or not. what UK law say about this? Is there any previous such case happened? Is there any way I can retrieve my money back ? Please help me in this mater. I am feeling very bad, cant eat, cant sleep, in panic and my health is damaging. Please give me suggestions what should I do. Thanks
Help I am in a pickle through no fault of my own. I recently got tupeed across to a new company but chose not to work for them in August I got married and with money going out and wedding gift money going in it was all very confusing and an expensive time I had noticed my account was healthy but I was expecting some larger payments so thought nothing of it ,at the end of August I received first one and then a few days later another a wage slip from Seetec the company I had chosen not to work for .I called the company and they looked in to it and confirmed they had paid me two payments as they thought I worked for them so this would have gone on if I hadn't told them. Unfortunately I lost my job due to a long term serious illness andthe wedding my bank is not healthy the company are demanding the money back in two large lots I can only afford ?25 a month they have said it's not enough what are my rights none of this was my fault and if I had not told them this would still be happening help what do I do.
Would really appreciate a definitive answer on this unusual issue. On behalf of a friend of mine, a carer for her severley disabled partner who lives at home. They are entitled to benefits after his severe strokes a few years ago. One benefit was miscalculated in their favour by about ?300 extra per month. They have repeatedly informed the relevant Council department both in writing and by telephone. The Council tells them not to worry, that they will get it sorted out. My friend dare not touch the money - even the portion of it that rightfully belongs to her - and currently has this money in a separate bank account (she was advised at the time to have separate accounts to manage the various income and outgoings). She doesn't want it, is frightened of the responsibity of having it - yet the Council are STILL paying this money into her account despite her numerous contacts to tell them to stop. Dream situation... she has over ?10k in this account, most of which she knows she is not entitled to and doesn't want.
If the Council repeatedly fail to take this money back, how can she deal with this? It's giving her sleepless nights. Most people would by now have spent it, giving a finger up to the inept idiots who won't take it back (yet tell us all they have no money!!) - logic tells me that if she has taken all reasonable steps to have the money returned and the payments stopped and the Council continues as they are, she could rightfully stop worrying about it as they couldn't possibly take any action against her for her failings... I know it's a bit different from "bank errors" but I've searched and searched and can't find anything similar to get any conclusive advice from.... yet my friend continues with the obvious struggles of a disabled partner and benefits... if this was sorted at least she'd be confident to spend the part that's rightfully hers - and surely there comes a point where one can evidence they have taken enough reasonable steps to correct the situation so they could confidently claim the money as their own...? this has been going on for years, she has heard absolutely nothing back from the Council for 12 months now and the payments continue to pour in.........
Please ignore my previous post (below). I've continued to search and found out I was barking up the wrong tree - I was searching to find out about money being accidentally credited to a bank account but it turns out I should have been googling "overpayment of benefits" - it's a whole other kettle of fish..!!! Apologies, I can't delete the previous post!!
Oh... and if anyone was interested, the Supreme Court has ruled that the Government has absolutely no power to enforce collection of benefits overpaid if the overpayment was as a result of an error not on the claimant's part. Enforced recovery is only possible in the event of fraud or misrepresentation...
I used online banking to transfer cash but keyed in 2 incorrect numbers so the money went to an unknown persons account.This was my error and boy oh boy am I paying the price! 2 months later I am still waiting for the bank to recover this for me. They cannot give me the money back without the account holders permission and it looks as though the account holder is not prepared to give that permission, although the bank will tell me nothing, I think by now he may have withdrawn the money which he can do according to the banking ombudsman! This is over £1k of my money. The ombudsman are going to look at whether my bank did enough to try to get my money back ( which they did'nt) but thats it. The FSA also say the bank only have to show they tried on my behalf. The ombudsman also says the police will not get involved (on the basis that this is theft) but even if they did, the bank will not give them the account holders name and address - so my advice would be if you transfer funds on line, check, double-check and triple-check the details before you press send! This person so clearly lacks any basic human decency or integrity and I have no doubt that he sleeps very easily each night but I am a firm believer in "what goes around comes around".
Yay! Finally I have my money back!!!! I contacted the ombudsman a month ago and filled in a form. They said I may have grounds for a complaint agains Santander who did not try hard enough to recover my money for me. I have heard nothing from Santander since late April but all of a sudden I received a one sentence letter from them telling me the money is back in my account. Very odd, given that they told me they made contact with the holder of the account which held my money in error in April. Why the sudden change of heart? Anyway I guess if you involve the Ombudsman it might just get the bank to work a little harder for you.
hi dear i am going through the same problem, i sent 10K in wrong account but still cant get my money back:( can i contact you to know how did you proceeded?
how long was the process?
in had the same problem, happened a month ago and NATWEST is saying that they are still waiting for Santander to reply to their letter :( is there any other help i can get to speed up the process?
Hi I paid over £ 6750 twice to a leasing company. The solicitors acting for this company assured us that their client will repay the over payment within a week. Our bankers contacted the credit controller of the company and she promised to look into the affair the following week because she " gets her statements on Friday.". Come Friday the concerned person was off work and the office manager lied saying that the money was not in their account. The solicitors acting for the company confirmed that the money was in the company account. The so called credit controller and the office manager claim that there is no policy for refund and that there is no other person that we can refer the matter to in the company. To cut the long story short, my bankers contacted the company and was promised that the money will be sent to us by cheque and 5 weeks later showed their true colour and refused payment. It is 6 months and we have not had the money. We are unable to take the service of a solicitor for lack of funds. Our business is closed because our cash flow is being held by this company representative. The name of the company is Galen finance Ltd, based in Leicester. Has anybody had any such experience with this company.Further can anyone help us with the way forward, based on their knowledge, profession or experience,. LGH ltd
please see posting
Thank you Andy but this woman who represents a company is just delaying returning the funds on the grounds that the paper is with the accounts department and the acccounts department says that the papers are with the credit controller who is stupid, racist, arrogant and ignorant.
10 million i would have to do the jail and keep the money lol id top my self for a few million so jail is nothing
stash every penny do your time and come out top a wedge. loll it's money he he been to jail can do it again but never had lots of money and i would do almost anything to have it
I am waiting for the money they stole from me to be paid back in full with interest. So any money comes into my account I will consider it is right.
Several months ago Halifax accidently paid money into my daughter's account. The princely amount of £400. She was expecting a back payment from DHSS, for living expenses and towards her mortgage, so thought nothing of it when she saw she was suddenly in credit. The amount was eaten away by money owed on bills by direct debit etc before she received a letter from them telling them of their error. She contacted them and explained that she did not have the money and the reason why and also explained that she was on social due to ill health. Not to be moved by this they sent a letter asking for £30 a month. She explained that due to her situation she could not afford this. They then offered £20. Now she has had to move in with me due to her health and I am trying to deal with the companies she owes. Halifax despite being sent a debt plan/information which was done for my daughter by a debt help agency have offered again £20, then up to £30, we have now received a letter stating that unless the whole of the £400 outstanding is paid within 21 days they will take my daughter to court. Now here is the crunch. I have taken my daughter to live with me abroad. She has no funds coming in, and I cannot afford to fly her back to the UK to go to court. I have to pay all of her medical care here as it is not possible for her to live alone right now. Can they force us to go to court, or can we deal with the court direct and give them all the information they need?
Thank you that was very helpfull
Can the bank recover the money for you
the bank have made payments of £350 into my account, as soon as ive notice it i asked straight wawy for them to check it out !!! ive been in again today and 3 days after the first theyve done it again and again ive sat down with them for the second time trying to figure it out all they keep saying is it's internal but theres no reference so they dont know anything about so if the bank themselves dont know what am i suppose to do ?????
can you sort out a payment plan if you spent the money without knowing?
What if you were let go from a job, recieved a check with your final pay and then they depsited that same amount into your account 2 weeks after they let you go/
I have a strange issue. Around £3000 was paid into my mother's bank account in error. My mother was seriously ill at the time of the deposit and didn't notice. Weeks later she died. We closed her account down and the balance of her account was transferred to her husband. We did not have access to her statements and the bank did not suggest any checks. Around a month later and after all the money was spend on funeral expenses etc etc, the bank informed us of the error. Turns out it was the depositors error rather than the banks. I have now received a rather nasty letter from the depositor demanding the money back and threatening both Police and court action. The money is spent and her husband now has nothing but his pension. What is his legal position?
Hi I wonder if anyone can help? I have bought concert tickets from someone on Gumtree I made a banktransfer of £280 into their account I have never received the tickets and they are not answering their phone I have contacted both gumtree and police who have both confirmed it is Fraud can My bank reclaim the money back from the other persons account?
Thats a very exhaustive post, and very informative to those that were innocent to believe it could have been a lucky win fall.
Hi can you help please? My child tax credit payments goes in to my ex bank account but he has not given me the money, I have phoned the tax credit office and they said I got to put it In written to change my bank details and will take up to 4 weeks, so do you think I can do anything about my ex not giving me my tax credits? Thanks daisy.
My 'problem'is a little different. My husband worked for a company that then went into receivership. The company itself was not bought out, but another company - bought the client lise and a new name and company no. was set up. My husband returned to work for them for 2 weeks. No intgerview, no contract or even initial letter of job offer. No fuel cards, mobile phone etc. He went back but after 2 weeks he had had enough. He got paid £870 odd into his account (no wage slip whih was more thatn a weeks money but short for 2 weeks) we asked and was told it was a 'good will gesture' so thet he and others had something. We then received a P45 saying he had been paid £1300 odd which is incorrect, if it related to the 870.odd it would mean he had paid nearly£200 in N.I. for 2 weeks works! As he was owed £66.00 in expenses and the balance of wages I check our bank account and foudn they had paid a months money into our account (£2196.00) My question is, with no contract etc., can we keep this money? He is owed some, but not this much.
i had 2000 in my bank accoun and i got to keep it why cant you keep the money
If you ever receive money into your account which you believe is not yours tell your bank and give it back - someone may have worked extremely hard to earn that money, may be relying on it and guess what IT IS NOT YOURS. You would not like it if it happened to you so have some morals and give it back. If you cant give it back put it aside and wait I'm sure someone will be claiming it at some point.
I received some money from a PPI claim on receiving this money I asked for conformation that the amount received was correct without mentioning the exact amount I had received and they confirmed it was. Now they are trying to claim the some of the money back though they originally confirmed it was correct. Should I pay the money back or seek legal advice?
Finally I received my money after 27 months with 8% intrest from bank. I am happy because it was a huge amount if10,000 pounds.
Im so glad to hear this I have been scrolling down this post to see if you got the money back.
Hi looking for some help a bit long but will try to shorten. I set up a betting account with someone I opened a bank account for them. The rules was any money paid into this account was there's to gamble with and any money paid into my personal account is mine 10% of the winnings . Anyway they paid 2500 into my personal bank and 10 weeks later they emailed me saying it was a error should I give this back or as I can prove I thought it was mine should I keep it I have a full paper trail with there rules saying anything paid into my account is mine Please help if you can thanks terry
I reseived a pay out from a savings fund set up by my aunty she told me she was going to cash it in and i would get the interest but did not know how much it was i got just over 14000 when i got it i cleared all my debts and put what little left aside i was then ill off work for some time and had to live off rest of money while i got better i then reseived a letter saying there had been an error and they had paid me 6000 to much and could they have it back i said sorry no i have spent it but have not herd anything back do i have to repay this or not.
In my case the bank is my pension disbursing authority..a task earlier was being done by the controller of defence accounts for the ex-servicemen.A PPO was given to me and a copy to the banker.I retired from service since feb 2009.All my pension / terminal benefits first based on my old PPO and then against my New PPO (A substantial increase in dues in all respects incl gratuity, commutation, disability pension) was credited as and when due for which I was not provided with any calculation sheet..as I believed there are lots of checks and balances.Now the bank has informed me that a sum of Rs 11 Lacs plus was credited to my acct against arears gratuity, commutation & disability pension on 11/03/09 and then duplicated with an ammount of 13 Lac plus in 08/03/2010 to another acct (saving acct held with that bank). Pension acct is the acct which was mandatory for a retiring person to open with a PSU bank of his choice duly recorded by the Controller of Defence Account Min of Defence Govt of India..It is not transferrable without prior approval of the CDA , M
hi recently a returned a dress back to new look,today however they called to say they refunded me too much,they had refunded me for a jacket too.I knew nothing about this until there phone call now they are asking me to go back into the store and pay back the over payment,how do i stand with this please?
The best and moral thing to do would be to go in and get it sorted out it's not yours and you should give it back. I bought a dress for my daughter once along with about 20 other items. When I got it home the dress didn't fit her so I took it back to exchange or refund. When the assistant checked the receipt I actually hadn't paid for the dress the cashier must have missed it becuase I had so many items. I said have the dress it's the shops I dont want it even though she offered to exchange it. Honesty is definately the best.
If you get money in your account by mistake never ASSUME.. If you didn't earn it, then it is not yours THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A FREE LUNCH, Give it back it is theft and someone like me a mum of four small children who will miss out this Christmas because someone decided that finders keepers! That is not true - stealing is stealing so give it back please!
Happy to read your post but don't worry that because the bank has made an error and somebody doesn't pay it back ASAP that you and your children will miss out.Banks have funds for these mishaps.
Thanks - it was my error I put a 3 instead of an 8 when I withdrew from my paypal account to my bank account, The account number is locked off so you only see that last four digits and it was the 5th last digit that was wrong, I checked my name and confirmed it was the right bank but Nationwide the bank are saying they do not match names however when confirming from paypal my name was one of the three items on the transfer...just devastated and the bank are still trying to contact the other account holder but they had money each month for three months how can they say they didn't know?
Banks are getting rid of a lot of staff at the moment and branches.My friends son who has worked in a high street bank for 9 yrs has seen so many changes. Staff are more like sales assistants and many cannot cope with staff shortages and increased work load.Not good at all for customer service.Glad you are sorting your problem out... maybe you were busy at the time too?
It's not so much the bank but the system and process that are at fault, checking three things that match is far more secure and when you are transferring you feel that you are using a secure system robust enough to cope with minor errors, with no triple check and then nothing in place to allow banks to correct the error straight away and remove the money incorrectly credited it relies on honesty and integrity of individuals, I do hope the person who has my money has some of that so this can be resolved before Christmas.
I transferred money from Paypal to my bank account or so I thought. The account I was transferring to was an old Alliance & Leicester account which Santander aquired and so my account number had a few letters at the front of it to deferentiate it from their Sandander accounts. According to Santander I should have also used a generic sort code not my branches sort code. Basically I put my money into a Santander account which already existed because I didnt use a generic account number and sort code they failed to tell me about (I only found this out after the money went missing!!) They have been hard to contact about this and I have had told so many differnet stories by them - the money is going in - the money cant be taken out by us its your error. They told me they had written to the account holderto request if they could retrieve my monry from thier account. First they told me they said it was ok to have then they said they have refused. So basically I have lost my money they said they can not retrive it as is was my mistake. If Santander had put the money there by mistake they could have taook it back!!!!! It got so bad with my partner regarding this money (he had earnt it I was just trying to transfer it) I have had to lie to him and say the bank has paid us it back and it has now been sent. The only other option I have is to send a pleading letter to the bank to vet before they decide whether or not they send it to the account holder (I wouldnt hold my breath) Ive pretty much given up all hope of getting this money back now but its a bitter pill to swallow since I am going to the bank on friday to ask for an increase of my overdraft!!!!!!!! Any advice welcome :-(
Go to the police - once the customer refuses to return the money it is theft...
Interesting. I have filled out forms with the financial ombusman and they are looking into it all for me. I'll see how that goes first. It's very annoying as the person who has my money could be someone I walked passed in the street everyday!
I've just contact the financial ombusman and they are sending me a form to fill in so hopefully the wheels start to turn??!! Lets hope so!
Were is the legislation to cover the return of mistaken funds..Ombudsman is the best option, Nationwide said they would write to customer last week so will give them until the end of the week and chase up...Report it to the police as stolen, until the customer refused to return it - it was misplaced, now they have refused to return it - it is stolen so report it they can get a court order to compel the bank to release the persons details and they can visit.
This happened to me at the end of October. My fault completely, I input the incorrect sort code. I telephoned my bank the day after I found out that the money wasn't where it should have been and they opened a case. I have spent the last three weeks chasing this up and today, after lodging a complaint with my bank, have been told that the incorrect receipient was expecting the money from me and refuses to refund it (I have no clue who there are and no-one can tell me - Data Protection Act).
My bank has told me to involve the Police as this is theft or could become a civil matter, therefore I require the name and address of the person. I have telephoned the police and am awaiting a call back.
I think I have given up hope of ever getting my £600 back. I know it isn't a lot to some people but having just moved into a new house it is a lot to me. I hope whoever has it will enjoy it as I will use every avenue possible to retrieve it!
Like you If it is not returned I will use every option open to me - the recipient can face a jail term so keep pushing, I am still waiting as the bank have written to the other customer - but if you don't know who they are how can they expect money from you? Would love to hear how the police handle it in your area, it would be helpful to know.
Well, I telephoned the Co-op to say to them that I was involving the police. I was informed that their customer hasn't commited fraud by spending my money - something to do with the Faster Payment Regulations! Honestly, not their money, they spend it so it isn't fraud or theft - what the hell is it?
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