What Happens If You Transfer Cash To The Wrong Account?

What Happens If You Transfer Cash To The Wrong Account?

The story of the man who sent £28k to the wrong person.

Anyone who has ever transferred money from one account to another via online banking has probably experienced that worrying feeling immediately after hitting the send button.

“Have I transferred it to the right account?”

The chances are you have checked the bank details a number of times and there will be no problems – however occasionally mistakes do happen. When they do, it’s actually not that easy to get your money back.

Radio 4’s Moneybox programme told the story of a customer who accidentally sent £28,000 to the wrong Natwest account. The customer – who had intended to transfer his mortgage deposit to his solicitor – realised 48 hours later that it had gone to the wrong account.

It took six weeks for the bank to offer his money back, and only then if he agreed to pay any legal fees if the unintentional recipient decided to go to court.

Wrongful transfer of funds and the law

Banks are required, under a voluntary code, to take action within two days should an accidental transfer take place, but there is no guarantee that they money paid by mistake will be returned.

Of course, the easiest thing to do is not to transfer the money to the wrong account in the first place. Checking the number three times before clicking send is the advice from the ombudsman.

Another good idea is to send a smaller amount of money first, for example, £1. This way you can ensure that the money has gone to the correct person before sending the rest.

If you do make a mistake, you must tell your bank straight away. Under the voluntary code, the banks will contact the recipient’s bank within 48 hours. It is then the other bank that is responsible for contacting its customer to recover the funds.

If there is a dispute over who owns the money, then the recipient’s bank should investigate for five weeks. If after this period there is no solution, then the only option is to go to your ombudsman or take court action – however going to court can be costly.

The moral of the story? Be careful with your hard-earned cash. Check, double-check and triple-check details before sending cash anywhere online.