How *Not* To Handle A Bank Error In Your Favor

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I still get a regular stream of comments on my old post on handling a bank error in your favor. Many are people who also got some money by accident and are looking for advice. Then I saw this AP article “Pa. couple spent windfall from bank error” posted at FW, which is a good lesson on what not to do:

A Pennsylvania couple is behind bars after police say they failed to call the bank when a glitch put an extra $175,000 in their account. Authorities say 50-year-old Randy Pratt and 36-year-old Melissa Pratt instead withdrew the money, quit their jobs and moved to Florida. They were buying a house in the Orlando area when the mistake was traced.

The two were arraigned Tuesday on theft and other charges and jailed in lieu of $100,000 bail. A public defender was being assigned.

A $1,772.50 deposit showed up in their FNB Bank account last summer as $177,250. Police say Melissa Pratt said her husband, a roofing installer, often got large checks and she wasn’t aware of any error.

Gotta love their excuse. Did he think he re-roofed the White House in his sleep or something?

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  1. A few months ago I received a letter in the mail from Regions informing me of a bank error where they deposited $49 extra into my account. The letter notified me they had already withdrawn the money and corrected the problem. I was very dissapointed, as I am a big Monopoly player!

  2. At least we’re not in China where you could potentially get a life sentence for taking money that came from a bank error/ATM malfunction. (But even in China, looks like they reduced the guy’s sentence to 5 years after a huge public outcry.)

  3. I’ve only once had a bank error in my favor. Happened at an ATM in New Jersey while on business travel where I took out $100 but was hurried out of the ATM booth by a bank employee trying to shut down the ATM (for maintenance? at 9:00 AM?). It wasn’t until I was well on my way down the road that I noticed two of the five “twenties” I got were actually fifties. A nice little $60 bonus probably caused by an employee putting the bills in the wrong slot. I won’t say what bank it was but their incompetent service had ticked me off enough by that point that I didn’t care about ethics and had no intention of giving it back, especially to a branch several states away from home. And no, they never traced it – you gotta love cash.

  4. Hah, that’s nothing. My wife’s old bank actually one time deposited over 2 million dollars into her little checking account. Yeah, we were tempted. 🙂 When she went to the bank to let them know the error, the teller was *quite* surprised.

    Even so, it took over a week for the money to be taken back, and then, they put it back in her account a few days later, so we had to replay the whole thing again!

  5. Forex Grid says

    Kyle, wow! What a temptation to have $2000000 for nothing. Can’t imagine this…

  6. My sister had ~$20k deposited into her account by mistake (someone messed up the account number). When she notified the bank, they removed it pretty quickly… twice. And then charged her overdraft fees for having a balance of -$15k. It took another 2 weeks to get them to put back $20k, during which point she had no access to any money in her account, and then another couple of weeks before they refunded all the overdraft charges…

  7. What about the interest on the money they put into an account? Usually its probably not much, but interest on $2 million sitting in an account for a week is quite a lot of money…would they take that back too?

  8. I had a teller once try to give me a withdrawal twice for a transaction. I had to argue with her that she was paying me double and for her to keep the 2nd amount of money! hehe. I’ve worked on a register in the past, you don’t want to come up short.

  9. I had a friend receive a $900 error when we were in college. She wanted to go out and spend that money, it was a lot to a poor college student. I told her she couldn’t cause at any point they can come back and take it away. Sure enough about 6 months later the bank figured it out.

  10. I once quit a job and they still paid me… I let the auto-deposited paychecks accumulate for a month or two thinking they would stop, but on the third month I got a little nervous so I called them and told them to stop paying me. I sent them a check for the full amount they had overpaid me.

    Sure enough, they said they fixed the problems, but continued to pay me. I finally got it straightened out 6 months after I left the job, but I’m pretty sure they would still be paying me if I hadn’t kept bringing it to their attention.

  11. so many good people its nice to see
    i put a 300 check in and they counted it 3000

    no i didnt get the money either

  12. Soo if a bank messes up with my money they get a bail out, but if they mess up with theirs I go to jail? I see the logic in that .. :\

  13. Mrs. Accountability says

    OUCH!! Someone’s not keeping very good track of the books at their company if that huge amount came in and there was no invoice to apply it toward! LOL! I could never do that. I’d have to let them know about the mistake as soon as I did!! I knew of a young woman who never let the electricity company know that she wasn’t getting a bill, she figured why tell them? For over a year! Finally they realized their error, and billed her for an entire year at once!

  14. I charged college tuition to a credit card once. They took it out twice! So I called the bank. They refunded the second one… then they refunded the first one!

    I made several attempts over 6 months to tell the bank they gave me $2400. I never could get through (even in person…)

    I eventually gave up – their fault.

    Funny thing is, years later – that money is “gone”. Unless you buy or invest in something specific, extra money just melts away slowly at Wal-Mart and Subway. I wonder how long it would take $175,000 to melt… probably not long – in Florida!

  15. You never know. People do all sorts of things in their sleep these days! 🙂 The only bank error I’ve ever noticed was NOT in my favor — about $75 in the wrong direction for an overseas shipment I did not authorize. 🙂

  16. I don’t know that they should go to jail for doing that, although they should have to give up the money. I think I saw a case where someone got a check from their local gov. for millions and they returned it. I think I would do the same thing. You would get in trouble for it eventually.

  17. That is an incredible story. I’ve never had a bank error of any significance – maybe a couple of pennies here or there – but LOL – as long as they repaid the money I wouldn’t put them in prison I suppose, but come on – they knew better.

  18. The bank should have to pay for there errors. Maybe there clerks would learn how to type clearly. And there would be less.

  19. Today I noticed that my bank credited me $5,750 for a check for $57.50 made out to cash. Of course I went immediately to the bank to resolve it. I wonder if I will get the 2 days interest credit (not much I’m sure).


  21. I got letter from the bank saying I was overdrafted but that I had a $750 waiting to clear, When I went to the ATM it said I have over $2000. I’m still not 100% sure what to do. Is god looking ALLL the time? 😀

  22. Frustrated says

    I want to close an account but can’t do it because it has received two direct deposits that are not mine and I can’t get them to go away. The deposits are from a school board I don’t have enough information on from the deposit to contact directly. They are on behalf of a person who I thought I had identified on Facebook, but she has not returned my messages via Facebook, so maybe she is not the real owner. I have contacted the bank by phone to Customer Service and by sitting in the bank for about an hour to talk with a personal banker. Everybody says they will get it taken care of, yet more than 2 months have elapsed and the money still sits there. The account requires I make a direct deposit every month to keep it free, but considering the complete incompetence of the bank I am quickly withdrawing my own money so that nothing is in the account except this money of someone else’s. I am growing very frustrated.

  23. a. one time i deposit money for 25.75 and they 75.25 balls so i told them house and they say they fix it but not hahahahaha

  24. Judy hunter says

    Four years ago, I sub in a preschool I got my first check was over paid me eight hundred i told the director right away.

  25. I had this happen to me about 11 years ago in College. I found $4,000 in my checking account with Fleet Bank (Now Bank of America). I called them, told them of the mistake and they withdrew it. 30 days later-It reappeared in my account. I called them AGAIN, said it wasn’t mine but they stated they could find no errors. I told them, SPECIFICALLY, it’s not mine-get rid of it. Again-they took it out and said they would write me with a follow-up. Again, 30 days later-it’s back in my account and no information. Call again, and I’m specifically TOLD there is no error. Case closed.
    I had the rep on the phone state to me “There is no error sir the money is yours”.

    It sits there for 3 more months, and I never touch it until by mistake I let my balance go under the $4,000 as a payroll check didn’t clear before I used the ATM for $40 bucks.
    No doubt, next day my account is -$4,040 then the next day $-3,890 as my check cleared. They took out 8k!
    I went down to the branch where I opened my account and literally got a silent treatment, and was told to pay the amount or the police would be called.

    I said yeah sure-please do call the cops. I’ll call my dad’s lawler and we’ll go to court. Should be fun.
    When I called the people who were handling the case (some company name Goldstar, or something) they wouldn’t talk to me either. So I went to another Fleet bank and requested a manager. This one was a little better-and simply closed my account and paid me the money leftover from my payroll check.

    About 6 months later Fleet was bought my Bank of America. I emailed them inquiring exactly what happened here-They had no answer. My suspicion? Someone at Fleet was running a scam of some sort-and it got caught up with me. They were probably extremely lucky I didn’t lawyer up and get sue them for the money, plus “pain and suffering” and legal fees.

  26. I have two credit unions. I went into credit union 2 and asked them to take $2500 out of credit union 1’s savings account to pay off the credit card through CU2. I just got back to the office to check the accounts and realized that they did indeed pay off my credit card but instead of withdrawing $2500 out of my CU1 savings account they deposited $2500 so now I have $5000 more than planned and credit card is paid off too. Being that it is a mistake involving two separate credit unions I wonder if they will catch it. If I leave it in there will I get to keep the interest and does that 90 day rule apply? Then I think, why did my mom raise me with morals and ethics? I’m going to turn it in but I hope they give me a reward for catching the mistake.

  27. The day after my pay check was deposited I went to the ATM and withdrew $300 which is part of my rent and it would not let me get the full amount. The next day I went back and got $200 which was the rest of what I needed. Two days later I withdrew $90 for car insurance. It has been 3 weeks now and the first two transactions totaling $500 were never taken out of my account but the $90 which was withdrawn two days later was. The money is still in my account, however, how long does it normally take for them to find their mistakes. They have messed up my account several times before and I am not going to call and tell them out of spite. Is there a certain amount of time when the money is mine.

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