Skip to comments.Woman Enters Wrong Account Number, Loses $42K
Posted on 02/11/2013 7:44:58 AM PST by Responsibility2nd
(Newser) – One click on a keyboard, and Sally Donaldson was sending her money to the wrong person. The British hairdresser says she planned to transfer her monthly pay of about $1,500 to her husband's account, but mis-typed one digit of his account number. The heartbreaker: They only noticed the error two years later, after losing $42,000. And the bank, Nationwide, refuses to return the money, the Guardian reports.
The bank argues that the lucky recipient has already withdrawn the money from ATMs, so getting it back is impossible. And the transfers are hardly the bank's fault. "Phone calls to Nationwide that night, many tears, and numerous subsequent calls and letters, have left us with just £1,000 returned," says Donaldson—which isn't her real name. How she failed to notice the problem for two years is another story. The Guardian partly blames paperless bank statements, which are easier for customers to ignore than snail-mail versions. (An Arkansas couple recently had a much rosier financial tale to tell.)
Sally lost two years' pay after mis-typing a digit during an online transfer. Now she can't get her missing money back
It was a sickening, gut-wrenching moment when, one evening in October 2012, Sally Donaldson checked her bank account and realised she had made the silliest financial mistake of her life.
Two years earlier, hairdresser Sally had organised for her monthly pay, £1,000, to be transferred from her HSBC account to the joint account at Nationwide building society she shares with her husband. But on that October night, the mother of two discovered she had made a simple but calamitous error.
It's a mistake anyone can make. To transfer money online from one account to another, you simply tap in the recipient's name, their sort code and account number. But Sally had incorrectly typed in just one of the eight digits in the account number – and the money was sent to the wrong person.
What makes her story so extraordinary, though, is that she made the mistake in May 2010. Every month since – for more than two years – her pay was going into someone else's Nationwide account. And now, to her horror, Sally is discovering she has almost no chance of getting back a penny of the £26,650 transferred in error.
That sucks, but the bank is right in this situation. She voluntarily mis-typed her account and gave the bank permission to move the funds.
The bank doesn’t owe her a cent for her error.
Here in the US, if money “unexpectedly” shows up in your account it is NOT yours (same for an ATM that unexpectedly spews money at you).
Banking laws are pretty clear — the one who withdrew the money has committed a crime and the bank has to make good on the mistake as well as go after the unintended recipient.
I sure as hell would notice I am missing 1,500 a month.
I have no sympathy for her.
Now if she told the bank in two months then it would be a different story.
I completely agree. How can you not check you finances for 2 years and not notice $1500/mo is missing?
Something smells very fishy.
but if the bank does it by accident and you take the money out, you get charged with theft
The bank won’t even tell her the name of the recipient who has the money. I suppose the foolish woman can get an attorney and try to sue.
But if the bank is not negligible and the recipient is broke, then whats the point?
Here in the US, if money unexpectedly shows up in your account it is NOT yours (same for an ATM that unexpectedly spews money at you).
Banking laws are pretty clear the one who withdrew the money has committed a crime and the bank has to make good on the mistake as well as go after the unintended recipient.
My bank was putting someone’s SS payments in my account because I had the same name as this person. I told them about it and they corrected it. Sure, it was the right thing to do, but let’s be frank here: It’s not my money ane everybody with a vested interest (including the police and prosecutors) knows it.
Fact is, one could make the argument that a criminal case against the person taking the money is justifiable.
1 digit wrong.
Back in the early 70’s I first heard about the use of a “check digit” included in identifying numbers, such as account numbers, membership numbers. This is an extra digit which serves as a check on whether the other digits were entered correctly. The number is created through a simple calculation, such that entering one digit wrong, or transposing digits will always produce an error that will be detected by simple program code.
So where were the bankers’ heads when they designed their system of bank accounts?
BTW, this is obviously too difficult for the people in the government to understand, so they have not even thought of incorporating this in the universal personal identifier: the social security number.
In case someone from SSA is able to read, here’s what you have do. Figure out the check digit for all existing SSN’s. Inform everyone of the new number.
Oh, I forgot. To change your computer systems to accomodate the longer personal ID, will cost 10 billion dollars. Never mind.
Only tells us that the security access is too lax for the account. You shouldn’t be able to send it. It says she got two out of three required entries correct. Well, then it shouldn’t have happened. It has to be a 3 out of 3 match or nothing...I think the bank’s system is set up wrong.
The woman is just careless and stupid. When I add a new account that I will pay money to, I send a payment of $1, and verify it got to the right account, before setting up larger payments.
In the past I banked at USBank.
A few years ago I checked the balance in mid-month and discovered my bank account bigger by about $100,000!
I notified customer service immediately, who were genuinely puzzled. It vanished three days later.
Was it an error? Or was someone within the bank embezzling?
If she was a rich and famous person, the bank would be making sure this was cleared up.
While the bank doesn’t owe her, the person who received the money does. That person knew the money wasn’t theirs, and yet they spent it anyway.
Such behavior has earned US citizens a little time in the big house. It’s considered theft.
About 3 years ago, the bank made a typing error when they credited my payment to the electric company. It was a paper check. It should have been $115 and they took out $1150. When I noticed the problem, it took me 3 months of calls to get my money back and my balance straight. First of all the electric company gave everybody a hard time about giving back their windfall. Next the bank socked me for several overdrafts resulting from not having the funds. In all it took 3 or 4 months.
If the names don't match, the transaction should have been refused. From day one.
Hence why you give a voided deposit slip or check to do direct drafts.
That said I have never been on my account at my bank’s website or an ATM and asked to enter an account number, that is just BS. It is either already verified and listed in my “accounts” section.
Sounds fishy to me.
About 25 years ago, during a period when I barely had my head above water, I received a notice that my checking account was overdrawn.
I can no longer remember the exact numbers, but the notice was showing a starting balance of over $1M. But I was overdrawn because I had written a check for thousands over this imaginary balance. In truth, neither my balance nor my check amounts in that account ever exceeded 3 digits.
I have no idea of what caused this mistake, and my call to the bank got me no information other than that there had been a mistake that was immediately rectified.
Frankly, I just don’t believe this story. NOBODY transfers money to another account mistakenly and lets that ride for two years. If I were the police, I’d be looking for whoever owns that mistaken account. My money is that it is owned by someone she knows and they are just trying to defraud the bank.
Okay. If she didn’t check her account for two years she’s stupid.
But going by what’s in the story, she should be able to sue the bejeebus out of the bank.
Correct. But the recipient does. And after acknowledging the error, the bank should facilitate her efforts to get that person to return the money in what amounts to theft. No contract, oral or otherwise exists or existed between the two parties for the legal transfer of funds.
I stopped doing all of my automatic bill payments...yes it’s a little more work to enter in each one individually, but that’s the best way to stay on top of where your money is going.
I was wondering who has that much money, as a working stiff, to where, when you pay the bills, somewhere a check doesn’t bounce in 2 years?
I once did my kid’s taxes by hand.
A few weeks later I got a form letter from the state. It said I had made a mistake....and the refund should not be $34....instead it should be $34,000 (I have terrible handwriting).
The letter said we would get a check for $34k soon. It never came...and neither did the $34 check :(.
I tried automatic bill payment twice. In the first attempt, AOL double tapped my credit card. In the second instance, my mortgage company double tapped my bank account.
Both were a huge hassle to clear up.
I still do electronic bill payment...just not automatic.
And my new bank (USAA) takes it a step further. In no circumstance does my electronic bill payment allow the other bank to debit my account. Rather USAA is actively sending a credit to them...the the point of printing and mailing paper checks if necessary. This way I never give a bank or company a blanket permission to debit the account.
It gives me alot of control.
$1500 in hubby’s account for two years and he never asks her where it is? BS.
It wasn’t just 1500 once, it was every month for 24 months.
I have no sympathy if the story is true as reported, and I do not think it is.
Heh, I still write checks and put stamps on the envelopes. I don’t like giving others access to my accounts, even though there isn’t much in them. Just the way I grew up in the 50s, I guess.
But its not just the account number but the routing number, plus name and address when setting up auto pay.
As others have said, this is very fishy.
Once got a letter from the IRS stating that my return wasn’t the amount I gave them (forget the amount ). Instead it should be x, the exact same amount.
I still do the same (write checks and mail them). I could easily do it all on line but I just don’t want to!
This smells like a scam to me.
It’s pretty ridiculous to complain 2 years later.
I know that is true when the bank makes an error which leads to funds going to the wrong account. I don’t think it applies when the customer voluntarily transfers their money to someone else.
It was a bank error, happens all the time.
The band aids and bubble gum holding many of their systems together leaks occasionally.
One very large bank I know was processing unemployment checks for states. Their system had a duplicate process running for about 4 hours. So every deposit and withdrawal happened twice.
Initially the amount of money involved was around $120 million but they managed to recover all but about $3 million.
A bank employee told me 2 years ago, that inside of 10yrs, we’ll all be ***required*** to bank online, OR ELSE. My replay was, or else WHAT? She just smiled. I can now see where that’s going, based upon 0scumbagCare.
It took her two years to figure out the money was missing? Whoa! I thought my ex was sloppy with the banking....
She's definitely qualified to be Treasury Secretary.
Lack of proper internal controls on the bank's part contributed to this error. There should be no way this occurred without confirmation from the bank as to why the name, sort code, and account number wouldn't have matched up properly. There should have been an instantaneous on-screen error message to prevent this.
That being said, to not even check this account for two years is stupid.
If they were paying attention, they would have noticed it in the first month and then their problem would have been either resolved or 1/24th of the scale!
Pay attention to your money people!
She's definitely qualified to be Treasury Secretary.