Skip to comments.Advice on a Bank Error
Posted on 10/09/2011 5:18:17 PM PDT by Marie
My daughter is a full-time college student working part-time (minimum wage) for a large, national corporation.
Last week, she went to her bank kiosk to deposit her check. The check was supposed to be for just over $300.
The computer changed the amount to more than $1,098,000.
She came straight home and reported the error to the bank. They said that it would take 24 hours to fix it.
Apparently, the 'fix' was to drop the $1,000,000 and just give her the $98,000 and change.
Her company honored the check and deposited that amount.
She's really frustrated. It's been four days. Does she keep working through the bank or should she contact her corporate headquarters to fix this error? She's also terrified of anything happening to the money while it's in her care and was wondering if she could move it to her savings account for safe-keeping. (Her savings is connected to her checking. This would just protect the money if someone got a hold of her blank checks or her card.) She's worried that such a move could be interpreted as an attempt at theft.
Has anyone here dealt with such a thing before? She's not an idiot and she is well aware that the money isn't hers, that the error will be caught and the money returned eventually, but she wants this taken care of as fast as possible.
One last issue. Banks report large deposits to the IRS. Is this going to bite her in the butt come tax time?
She should give the bank one more call Tuesday. If they still don’t don’t fix it she should shunt the money to a savings account somewhere else, don’t touch the principle for at least a couple of years, skim the interest. If the bank says something give them the money back, if 2014 or 15 comes around and they still ain’t said anything it’s her money.
I don’t have any experience, but it seems to me the simplest course of action is to contact her company. They will be motivated to correct the error, and chances are will have the resources / expertise to execute whatever process needs to occur in order to make that happen.
Don’t move the money anywhere. The bank will fix it and she needs to keep records of who she talks to and when she talks to them. It would also be a good idea to talk to her employer just so they can’t say that she didn’t.
Keep documents and call logs? There will be IRS notification and also contact whomever does her taxes, if she uses a CPA? Paperwork is her best defense and everything should be saved to verify it? It will be on her to prove it was not her error? I am not a tax advisor, nor am i representing one, just giving my two cents. Please do your own due diligence and proceed accordingly.
Tell her not to touch the money! But she should let her employer know whats going on & that the bank has been contacted.
When they finally come around to claim it, there it is! To touch a cent of it will put her in a world of hurt.
She should still notify her company's HHR and accounting departments of the bank error and concerns she has about it. The company will of course contact their bank to ensure that the check is honored only for the amount it is written for.
In the meantime, she should be prepared for bounceback on her account. The clearance center may place a ‘hold’ on the check, debiting the full amount out of her account (including the million dollars the bank ‘corrected.’) She should assume that there is no money in that bank account for right now, and if you're in a financial situation to assist, provide her with temporary funds to tide her over until the error is corrected.
She should be prepared to answer questions from her company why she waited so long to notify them of the problem as well.
The bank can put the money in an escrow account. At 1% interest there is nothing to be gained by playing with the principle.
Notice i start off with her reminding them, then only touching interest for at least 2 years. Eventually if they don’t catch it it most certainly is hers, but you need to give them time. The important thing is to not take the money and run. They’ll probably catch up eventually, probably Tuesday, or at the latest with end of month processing. But if they don’t they don’t. If you tell them twice and wait years and they still don’t catch it eventually it’s too bad for them.
She should report it to her boss, and if the bank is still stupid, it might make sense to show the error to the prosecutor, in case the bank gets “embarrassed” and decides to put the blame on her. The banks have audits, so the loss will be discovered. A teller once gave me $200 too much. When I called to report the error, the teller told me they were getting ready to call me. This was within a couple hours of my cashing a check. Honesty is always best, even with stupid banks.
And have her print out a statement showing the high dollar amount to casually leave out for nosy relatives.
I went through the same thing with a smaller amount. Bank personel are rather arrogant about their jobs. They kept telling me that it must be an error on my part. I had to go to the bank and go through the account with them item by item and it still took them a bit to figure it out.
The check was deposited on Wednesday. Immediately after calling the bank (and being reassured that it would be taken care of), she went into her work and notified her manager of the error. She also produced the receipt.
The manager and her co-workers acted like the whole thing was a joke and took pictures of the receipt. One of them edited out my daughter’s personal information and posted the photo of the receipt on her facebook.
So she does have it documented that her manager was notified and she has time/date-stamped photos to prove it.
I don’t see how she can get into trouble *at this point*. What I can foresee are IRS issues next spring.
We’ll give it until Tuesday afternoon (hope the clearing house catches it), then start making more calls.
I would place the money in an escrow account just be sure, and make sure EVERY communication is recorded like say...sending them an e-mail to BOTH banks and company that “I have or plan to place the large amount in an escrow account as it is not mine”.
Make sure everything is black and white and recorded in case the IRS come knockin’. Protect yourself.
Sure hope your joking, because that is some of the worst advice I've ever heard.
The correct response to this situation is to call the bank again, keep track of names, call the payroll department of her company, keep a record of everyone she has spoken with. Do not transfer any of the money, do not spend ANY of the interest (since it isn't really hers to begin with). In fact, if she can avoid it, don't even use her accounts till this situation is cleared up.
Having worked a bank for many years in the past, it is surprising how long this kind of situation can take to clear up. If the bank's proof department thinks you should have x amount of money in your account, then by God it is very hard to get them to reverse the error sometimes - even if it is a ridiculous mistake in your favor.
The actual tellers in banks really don't care what the check says unless their is cash involved. Especially if it is a regular customer, most banks simply deposit whatever the customers says is the correct amount from the deposit slip. They rely on the proof department to verify the amount, and once the deposit clears it can sometimes be very hard to fix this kind of error.
Let me put it this way, Their memory exceeds your life expectancy.
Do absolutely nothing. Do not touch the account, do not withdraw nor deposit funds to the account. Ten working days after that deposit has been made, if the money is still in her account, the money is hers. That is black-letter law.
Let me put it this way, their memory means nothing. Eventually they lose all claim on it. Not quickly, but it does happen. Their error, she tried to fix, they don’t, she tries again, they don’t, they’re rapidly running out of options. They can “remember” all they want, but it’s still their mistake, and she tried. You don’t want to go quick because there is a time period when the law will favor them, but eventually it’s too bad for the bank.
This is one reason why I don’t have direct deposit. Plus, I’m self employed.
Nothing kidding about it. If they don’t fix it by the end of the month they’re on the path to losing it. The reason to transfer it is that indeed then the interest IS hers because it came from a completely different bank, that’s part of the reason to slide it out. Heck she could take it out Tuesday morning, she should just understand that sometime in the next couple of days they’ll figure it out and expect their money back. But if she can pony it up anything else she gains from it is hers.
The savings account is not likely any more safe than checking.
If she has direct deposit, her employer can automatically remove the funds. If not, they will come looking for it.
She needs to notify the bank and her employer. If she is very worried, write a letter of notification and have the bank manager sign it, ditto with her HR director.
After she does that, I think she is fairly clear of liability.
No it is not hers if they dont correct it, that is absurd. Nor does she have any right to touch the interest. Period.
Tell her company and if she wants to, tell everyone in writing but this will be corrected soon. Do NOT transfer that extra money or touch it, interest, or anything else to do with the extra money in any way shape or form.
Just my OPINION not meant as legal, accounting, or any other advice to you or your daughter.
I wouldn't be too concerned about IRS issues unless her W-2 is screwed up too....which is really, really unlikely. Banks are required to report cash transactions in excess of $10k but, frankly, in the banking world $98k isn't that big a deal.
Tell your daughter to withdraw the money (in small unmarked bills) and send it to me. I know just how to correct the mistake and clear this all up.
OK, seriously, keep detailed records of everything done to return the money. DO NOT move the money around. They'll figure it out soon, and she doesn't want to give anyone the impression that she is trying to obstruct the return of the money.
If they don't correct the problem soon, consider getting a lawyer to handle it. It sucks that she (or you?) might have to pay for a lawyer when it isn't her fault, but I would feel much better having a lawyer representing my interests in a situation like this.
I personally believe that contacting HHR or accounting and reporting the issue and steps taken to correct it is the best policy. Her employee handbook should list the direct numbers for one or the other. A manager might get a slap on the wrist for not passing the information to HHR, whereas HHR might see it as for cause reason for dismissal.
And again, I mention that the clearance center could place a hold on her account for the entire erroneous amount, even if it exceeds her balance. Which means every transaction that occurred since the deposit may be denied and fee placed on her account. The bank manager should be able to clear those, if it does happen. If she calls the bank manager at or before bank opening on Monday, the manager can check her account and keep an eye out for those cascade fees. This is the branch manager directly, not the 800 number for customer service.
Sounds like a reasonable solution and the honest thing to do. Just out of curiosity, which bank?
Looking over the different responses it struck me how all of us seem to answer the issue from a pragmatic viewpoint rather than a moral one including yours truly.
Bottom line is: DON'T TAKE WHAT AINT YOURS!
As soon as she gives the money back to the Bank, she will have to pay gift tax on it.
I would check to see if there was any way you could turn your daughter in for some kind of reward.
Eventually it most certainly is hers. The time period seems to vary by state, but indeed all the legal sites I just checked all said the same thing, eventually it’s your money and if they do catch all you owe them is the error NOT any extra you might have earned with it (like interest in another bank) while they were getting their act together.
;) That's funny!
Terrible advice. She should withdraw the entire amount, fly to Vegas, and bet it all on one spin of the Roulette Wheel. If she wins, she can pay off the mortage. If she loses, it's off to Venezuela until the statute of limitations expires.
Black letter law your ass. Give us some legal citations please. And your law degree and credentials dealing with these issues.
Forgive my profanity but giving someone such advice sight unseen is extremely irresponsible.
As to the poster’s concern about IRS issues, there will be an ample paper trail to demonstrate to the IRS she didn’t have this large deposit, and it was a bank accounting error. IF it is ever reported to anyone.
Call the Finance Department. If they don't fix it call the auditors.
Just checked half a dozen legal sites. Each state has laws that set the end period (generally measured in years just like I said), but if the bank doesn’t try to correct the error by the end period it’s your money. And in fact if they do catch it all you owe is the error, not any interest. And once that time period passes it IS YOURS so you can take it, legally AND morally. Shouting doesn’t make you right, in fact in this case you just shouted a whole bunch of wrong.
I would notify the bank and the company in writing, registered mail, asking them to sort it out.
Don’t touch the funds.
I haven't laughed this loud in days.
I needed that!
Now there’s a plan I could enjoy.
She needs to work with her employer on this, namely the payroll and/or accounting departments. Her direct supervisor (boss) may want all conversations to go through them or may want her to just talk with corporate herself.
Her employer, like every large company, will need to reconcile at the end of the month. If the pay week was partly in September, they also will be reconciling a Quarter-end, as of 9/30/2011. Part of this will be reconciled for 10/31 month end (the bank reconciliation).
Reconciliation needs to be between payroll and G/L, and payroll and cash (for the net pay). Also, the company will transmit payroll data to the Federal and State government probably every week or at least every month. This needs to be reconciled with the payroll data they have on file, i.e., what they send to the Federal and State governments needs to match their records.
If the check was correct but the bank cleared it for the wrong amount, only G/L Cash and Payroll Net Pay will not agree; it will also be a reconciling item on the monthly bank reconciliation.
This will require people at her employer to work on cleaning this up. She may actually have to write a check to them to give them the money back, since an electronic withdrawal is designed for regular payments, not one-time payments, i.e., it requires authorization. Her check would necessitate an oddball accounting entry being made to accept it and set things right.
Of course, if the check was made out for exactly the correct amount, and she were to return the excess funds by making out a check for the total minus the exact net pay she was to receive, then she will not need have another pay check cut - and all will be done with all the reconciliations in payroll; only the bank rec will have a reconciling item. This is by far the easiest route because Federal/State 941 (quarterly payroll), i.e., all payroll records will stand correct as is.
This may take accounting and payroll some time to get it right; I’d say be patient and cooperative but keep calling corporate payroll and / or accounting all the time to get it resolved so it does not fall between the cracks. Who knows, they may try to “fix” the check by reversing it or something.
If the check was for the wrong net pay amount, then, of course, there’s fixing in payroll to do, which must then be adjusted in government reporting and in G/L.
Keep a careful record of every communication, including voice, email, paper letter, etc.
I like to start at a high level as such issues receive much better attention and get resolved with much less pain.
Not a dent.
An excellent lesson shot to hell
This is really just awful advise. Are you speaking as some kind of attorney with experience with such things? Having worked a bank for a very long time, I'd say if she followed your suggestions she'd be asking for big, big trouble.
Moving the money will immediately cast enough suspicion on her to trigger a full blown investigation that would almost certainly involve law enforcement. Your not only suggesting she move the money to an interest bearing account, your are arguing she she take money that isn't really hers from one institution to another. Instead of just a simple account correction, this would open the door to bank security immediately believing she was running some kind of scam.
Yes, if she had records of reporting the error and could produce the money on demand she might escape too much trouble, but why go through all that and risk the bank and FBI assuming the worst and trying to prosecute her for fraud? It's not her money, she has no right to it and it is wrong to keep it in the first place.
wow you found half a dozen legal sites dealing with this person’s exact situaton and you completed your “legal” analysis in about two minutes and apparently without a legal degree you are already an expert on state and federal banking laws and regulations, not to mention all manner of other potential criminal and/or civil liability.
That’s what I should be saying. Legally and morally if they don’t catch it eventually (”eventually” being defined differently in each state) it’s your money. Works the other way around too, if they make a screw up that goes against you you’ve got 60 days or you’re SOL, they get years but eventually they too are SOL. There’s nothing immoral about waiting the proper time period and taking what they law says is yours. And any interest you get is just an inconvenience fee for you making the effort to make sure they would get the money if they figured out their error.
Leave it in the account. Pretend it is not there. Eventually, the bank will figure it out and draw it back out.
Old Chinese sage say: Ignorant you can teach, but only cure for stupid is kill.
That’s the power of the internet, lots of data there for folks who have good search skills. And actually it took about half an hour. Never said I was an expert, but I did find lots of experts that all agree on the basic fact that eventually the money is legally yours. They did mention potential criminal and/or civil problems, but those only arose in the case of the person taking the money and spending it, as long as you can cough it up in total if they ask before deadline day you’ll be fine.
Oh now you’ve added insults to shouting. Cute. Meanwhile out here in reality the money is legally your if you wait long enough. And given how long that it, anybody with that level of patience has morally earned the money.
Regaring my prior post, bank reconciliations are done by a department in the company usually called something like Treasury or Cash Management.
Many companies use a banking feature called positive pay for paper checks; it’s an electronic file of the payments which the bank is supposed to verify when honoring checks they cut. Since it looks like her employer’s bank honored the check, if they use positive pay, the file had that amount in it. Maybe they don’t use postive pay. If the pos pay file was correct and the bank honored the wrong amount, her employer may not be liable for the difference, their bank may have to eat it.
None of you guys have to worry about her trying to keep the money or playing tricks with the money to score a couple of bucks off the interest. She knows that the money isn’t hers and she’s just afraid of getting into trouble. She’s also afraid of her account being messed up and blocking the use of the the money that actually is hers.
Tomorrow I’m having her take out the money that *is* hers to keep it safe in case they freeze her accounts. Tuesday she’ll start nagging the bank and her company to get it fixed. Until it’s sorted, she’ll use cash.
If it’s not fixed within the next two weeks, I’ll have her open another checking acct for personal use until this matter is settled and she can let them figure it out at their leisure.
They always figure it out. I’m well aware.