/ Money

Ever transferred money into the wrong account?

Picture of a pound coin

Our survey reveals that if you enter the wrong account details when transferring money, you may not get it back. Have you accidentally transferred cash into the wrong bank account?

What happens if you enter the wrong payment details when trying to transfer money online? Our survey of more than 5,000 people found that, while only 6% had inadvertently sent money to the wrong account, 16% of those who did couldn’t get their money back.

Affected by misdirected payments?

TonyTake Tony Moss – he entered one incorrect digit when trying to transfer £742 into his Royal Bank of Scotland account. His money ended up in someone’s loan account who’d left the country, leaving their debts unsettled. Tony was told by RBS that his money was irrecoverable – this was confirmed by both the Financial Ombudsman Service and in the small claims court.

Eventually Tony appeared on Nick Ferrari’s radio show on LBC and drew attention to his situation. His money was promptly refunded by RBS. Tony’s story shows the value of pursuing your provider in this situation – though he had to go to worrying lengths to get his cash back.

Can you get your money back?

The Payments Council recently introduced a Code of Best Practice on ‘misdirected payments’. This requires banks to act swiftly on a customer’s behalf if such a payment is reported. But the guidelines can’t guarantee that you’ll recover their money.

To protect your money, always double check you’ve entered the right details. And make sure to check your account’s T&Cs for your bank’s policy. Though money spent by recipients who can’t pay it back is untraceable, transfers to an invalid set of account details will bounce back.

We want to raise awareness around this issue, and we need your stories around misdirected payments to help. So if you’ve experienced misdirected payments, tell me your stories below.

Emanuele Petz says:
1 March 2015

I fell to an Internet scam. Somebody hacked my email, posed as my supplier, asked me to pay the money to a bogus account.
Barclays bank credited the scammer the funds, even though the beneficiary name I indicated was the real supplier name (so I wired many to an account with different beneficiary from my instructions to the bank).
Barclays just said account had been closed and funds withdraw; later it came back officially offering 3000 USD to close the chapter.
When I insisted on them, they just said ‘it is true that beneficiary name you indicated in different from the account holder we credited the money too, but law requires us only to credit the funds to requested account details, and if beneficiary name is different it does not matter””.
Is this true ?????

Hi Emanuele,

I’ve been in touch with our consumer rights team who suggested that Barclays are correct, according to a previous decision made by the Financial Ombudsman Service. Details: http://www.financial-ombudsman.org.uk/publications/ombudsman-news/102/102-money-transfer.html

However, it may be worth trying to taking your complaint to the Ombudsman, as there’s no guarantee they’ll make the same decision.

Also, it’s worth pointing out that this scam is a criminal act, so you should contact the police if you haven’t already.

“complaint upheld
We listened to what both sides told us and reviewed the relevant facts of the case. This included viewing screenshots of the steps Mr B would have gone through to make the transfer.
We did not consider that the bank had given Mr B sufficient opportunity to check the transaction details. In particular, we noted that there was no “final confirmation” page.”

The link seems to be for old cases but interesting nevertheless.

There needs to be an understanding that there is Banking law, and banking practice when I studied in the last millenium. Banking practice might be seen as a mix of common law and how banks liked to operate – and thus was a changing beast. Banking Law was decided cases and outlined the relationship between customers and banks.

My gut feeling is that Banking Law may actually still exist but the British Banking Association is not very keen on old laws. The regulators may not be au fait either.

Lastly it is rather grimly funny that having achieved the near instantaneous transfer of money in the UK and overseas we are now appreciating the fact that cheques actually could be safer BECAUSE they are slower AND the accepting banker has to check the payee is paying into the named account.

mikkie says:
22 April 2015

please is there any hope for me to recieve money when person send money to me but mistakely put a wrong beneficiary name but other details were correct and intact please i need to knw anybody help me can i still recieve money?

Hi Mikkie, I’m sorry to hear about the problems you’re having. As long as the sort code and account number were correct, then there should be no problem with the bank transfer.

However, if you’ve made a payment to the wrong account, we’d recommend that contact your bank as soon as possible (ideally by telephone) to ask them to recover the money. Your bank must make a reasonable effort to recover the money (and may charge for doing so; if they do it will be in your terms and conditions). However, your bank will not be liable for any losses you suffer.

If your payment has been sent to someone at a different bank to you, your bank will communicate with the other bank on your behalf and ask for the money to be returned.

If money has been taken from your account as a result of a fraud you have additional protection.

mikkie appears to be the recipient of the funds which is adifferent case to the one you have answered. On the bais of the scant information provided it would appear the account number etc were ignored.. Rather different from all other examples.!

Sylvie says:
7 May 2015

I have been reading the comments above and am horrified to find out that there is not much that can be done. I am in a similar position as the case above regarding Barclays. I am considering reporting my case to Action Fraud as this must fall under Dishonestly retaining a wrongful credit. If I do is there a chance that I will get my money back

Ali Naqvi says:
18 May 2015

I second Sylvie’s comment above.

I transferred GBP 600 incorrectly to a Barclays account. Barclays just sent me a letter saying the customer has not gotten back to them and they can’t do anything about it as the customer has not responded to their attempt of getting in touch with them.

As we must know holding money that is not intended for you is illegal so there must be a way of getting this back legally or through some other route? Unfortunately everyone I have tried to get in touch with does not have a straight answer to this. Should start a petition to the payments council to sort this mess out through some clarifications.

If the bank has done what it can then as I understand it your only course of action is to take legal action against the recipient yourself. There does seem to be a problem under data protection for the bank releasing the recipients details? If that is the case then perhaps that needs addressing. However at present being very careful to check the details you input seems the only sure way of avoiding a problem.

Ali Naqvi says:
16 July 2015

Hi All,

I have an update regarding my case which might help the others.

The recipient of my funds was not responding. I involved the financial ombudsman who then contacted the recipients bank (Barclays) to understand the case and scenario, Apparently there is a new code through which the bank can withhold the funds from the recipient’s account and request them to respond to claim the funds belong to them. If this is not done within 10 days the funds will be released back to the sender. I got my money back after almost 6 months of chasing and complaints hence I hope the other can get theirs too.

Thank yuo so much for posting an up-date – and such a useful one.! Congratulations on your success.

A Brook says:
21 July 2015

I set up a payee using NatWest online banking. I entered the name Burlingtons and the correct sort code and account number. Between setting up the payee and making a payment the account number changed to 00000000 and the sort code to a different one. I phoned the bank and was told that this was an arrangement that large companies had with the bank and not to worry.

I transferred over £67,000 to what I thought was my solicitor’s bank account.

In fact it turned out to have gone to Littlewoods, the catalogue company, who have a subsidiary, also called Burlington’s. So far the bank has refused to accept that they are responsible in any way for the money going to the wrong account and are resusing to accept my version of events.

Luckily I have been able to replicate the problem with a £1 payment and have made a video of the transaction.

It took over a week for the money to be returned to my account and the NatWest complaints department seems to exist solely to deflect blame or criticism from them.

I look forward to hearing off a satisfactory settlement for the distress caused to you £100 would seem a good starting point. To help others a posting of the video on Vimeo or YouTube and sending the link to FoS and here would also be useful.

It is actually quite shocking for this to happen.

Tina says:
2 August 2015

We are still trying to get £200 back. When we realised the mistake, within a day of the transfer, Nat West were informed and advised that the money could not be re-called. Several calls from a mobile were made and conflicting information provided. Yes we could re-call and no we could not. Approximately 20 days on we were told we could re-call, then advised it was too late as it was already in somebody elses account. Eventually we were passed to Halifax who passed us back to Nat West, who passed us back to Halifax and so on!!!! 1 year on we have not had any resolution and Halifax refused to pass a letter on to the recipient advising of legal action if they did not pay the money back, even though Nat West advised us to send this letter.
The system of Faster payments needs reviewing, most people like ourselves believe the 3 pieces of information need to tie up, Name, Sort Number and Account number, In fact only a sort number and account number are required and therefore this is why so many mistakes are made.

SKK says:
9 August 2015

Recently, we have transferred two amounts in US$ dollars to a wrong account number with ING Bank Slaski SA, while the account name was correct, in Poland. These account details were sent to us by hackers exactly as per our principals letter head, saying the change of bank account details and without noticing this, thinking it was from our pricipals, we transferred unfortunately. One amount credited back, but other amount of US$45617/- still not credited back. we have been following with our local bank, but they are waiting for the reply from receiving bank. Is there any chance of getting back this money.. Please advice.

I transferred £10,000 into the wrong bank account (Danske Bank to Nationwide) and the recipient spent it all. I only realsied10 days afterwards. The banks were very slow and confused and only had a notification well beyond the 6 weeks deadline. The ombudsman found against me saying that although the banks were slow, the money went out so quickly.
The payments council has not responded to me either.
It seems I have to find a good solicitor, chase the recipient and even then I may not get my money back as well as incurring solicitor’s fees.
Does anyone know a solicitor who has experience with this issue

I recently cashed in £1000 premium bond monies online to help my daughter out of financial difficulty, after lots of chasing from Ns&I and nationwide it was discovered one digit of the account number was entered wrong, 3 months later I recently been told that the account holder who the monies went to have ignored all correspondence from BS and that they cannot refund my money to me. It now has to go to a small claims court and even then there’s no guarantee that I will receive my money back! This was all due to the fact that one digit on the account number was entered wrongly. The BS did not check the name. Surely they must take some responsibility for this too also why when they’ve got all the evidence they can’t take the money back from the account holder who received this payment?

Mary Chris says:
30 December 2015

Hi..My boss send money to my husband acount ,,the name and address was correct but I accendentaly miss one number of his acount the acount should contain of 12 numbers but I put only 11 numbers,then my husband did not receive the money ,my question is …is the money will send back to my boss acount? Becoz my boss using online banking but there is transaction number on it.

Hi Mary Chris,

Thanks for your comment. If the details were incomplete (missing a digit) then the likelihood is that the money has not left your boss’s bank account. However, you’ll need to speak to your boss to find out if the money has left their account and if so the bank will need to find out where it’s gone. If the money has been transferred to the wrong account then your boss will need to report to their bank (as the article above explains) and then they can make steps to recover the money. Hope you manage to resolve this issue.

Steve says:
23 March 2016

I mistakedly put 4500 in a persons nationwide account via my pay pal, pay pal won’t retreive the money, they say it was my fault, the recipients bank won’t return the money , they say pay pal should do so, I am at a loss as to what to do to get money back .

Read Ian says:
9 May 2016

Always go to the bank and get a teller to transfer then if anything goes wrong it’s their fault. I worked for Barclays, transactions are easily reversed (the money is only electronic anyway)

Sue hodson says:
7 September 2016

I need a bit of advice I started a new job was to g.st paid this Tuesday ! Turns out I gave one wrong digit on my account on the end my boss has had the money sent to this other account it’s the same bank lloyds is there any way of me chasing it up with my bank

I suggest you ask your boss to contact the bank and explain. They made the payment so will need to confirm that it was sent to an incorrect account. I’m sure it will be sorted; do let us know.

I have a big problem,on the 5th May 2016 I paid 194000.00 into an account meant for BMW ,the bank says I missed a digit and what happens in this case is that bank serve populates the account number,they added a zero to make the account number 9 digits whereas I used 8,the ombudsman did not rule in my favour,the funds landed up in an individual account and within 5 days the person had used 114000.00,only 80.000 was recovered,I need advice please,nor satisfied with the ombudsman ‘s response,I used a wrong number as they say but I never added the zero ,they did,now I am told I must go after the person who benefited,why not match name and account number before processing,banks don’t care about your money.

Angy – you will need to give a lot more information before anyone can give you definitive advice. These are some of the questions that immediately arise:

a. How were you paying the money – was it a cheque or an automated funds transfer from your account into the BMW account?
b. Were you intending to pay £194, 000?
c. Personal accounts generally have eight digit numbers. Did the BMW account number have nine digits? d. What reason did your bank give you for adding an extra digit to the account number?
e. If your bank made an eight digit account number into a nine digit one, how did they come to pay that into a personal account? Have they explained that?
f. Did your bank explain why the sort code did not trap the payment?
g. You said £80 was recovered – did you mean £80,000?
h. Did the Ombudsman give a reason for not finding in your favour?

The person who received your payment is not entitled to retain it and you should try to reclaim it. You will probably need professional legal advice – there’s a lot at stake so it would be worth it. The person might also have committed a crime so you should inform the police.

dieseltaylor says:
9 September 2016

Are we talking a UK bank and a payment to a UK account?

Also can Angy gives us a clue as to the case reference so we can read here

A search is not very effective returning 2000 plus hits

It appears to me that there was a problem with full stops and commas being either misplaced or one substituted for the other, or both. I am guessing the most likely amount payable to BMW should have been £19,400.00 which would have been easily recognisable by the bank but if Angie quoted £19400.00, omitting the comma after £19, then this could quite easily be interpreted as £194,000.00.

As John has said, more info is needed to clarify this but in any event, I do think the bank should have queried the figure based on the assumption that £194,000.00 was rather a large amount to pay for any car whatever the make. Presumably Angie didn’t pay by cheque as the correct amount would have been clearly shown in words which the bank should have read.

In this case, both parties were at fault, but banks will normally accept liability and refund the customer, dependant of course on the personal financial circumstances of the customer and their past relationship with the bank.

This case is indeed mysterious with so many things that could have gone wrong. Although there seem to be question marks over whether the payment amount was recorded correctly that was not the critical issue: the problem hinges on the receiving account number and why it was altered. It takes three things to post a payment to the right account – the payee’s name, the receiving bank’s sort code, and the payee’s account number. The reported alteration of the account number is particularly disturbing. I don’t think Angy’s bank can be entirely innocent in all this.

I thought a cheque payment was unlikely but not impossible and an error could have occurred on a payment slip – it would not surprise me if bank clerks don’t check to see if the payee’s name on the payment slip corresponds with that on the accompanying cheque. The more likely scenario is that the money transfer was done on-line where it is easy to make a mistake [although in my experience there is a review screen to confirm that all the details are correct before commitment]. Automated payments are exactly that – no one is checking any details, so if there is a dishonest customer using the same bank branch as BMW [and therefore having the same sort code], and there is an error in the account number, the transfer will go astray. That such an error was possibly introduced by Angy’s bank is worrying. I wouldn’t expect a bank to query a customer’s instructions and wonder whether the amount was excessive, but I would expect them not to ‘correct’ a payment authority without consulting the customer.

I don’t think it will be possible to deal with the intricacies of this case at long range and through the medium of a public website. I think Angy needs a face-to-face conversation with a senior person at her own bank. I would not expect them to concede anything at that stage, especially if legal action was under contemplation, but Angy is at least entitled to have somebody explain to her properly (a) why the bank did what it did, and (b) why it didn’t do what it could have done to prevent this unfortunate situation occurring.

I think Angy should seek legal advice. This seems a very unclear case as presented.

dieseltaylor says:
10 September 2016

It would be much clearer if we were given the Ombudsman reference. It is effectively public domain anyway.

There can be now useful change if peoples experiences are not highlighted but left to the Ombudsman which judging by the number of cases must employ much staff. If they are all of good quality that would be exceptional.

I think we need to bear in mind that British banks operate as a cartel and introduce “customs” by themselves . Generally they can get away with it as only a minute proportion of the population are familiar with Banking law and the effects that the new “customs” will have.

My concern is the Ombudsman is staffed by many people who are enforcing the Banks view of banking without knowledge of previous case law in Banking.

Obviously payment systems have evolved rapidly over the last two decades and the people making the rules for the new payments are engaged in minimising checks and balances in the interests of expediency. Cheques actually are , because of the slowness and the returns system, a safer system from the drawers perspective. You can confirm that a cheque is rec’d by the right person/firm.

Banks ARE required to check payee and account number on cheques paid in. Not something they do with electronic payments. As for NFC payments I can see a veritable blood-bath of disputed payments , spoofing , and the Banks washing their hands of it .

I have first hand experience of banks misreading the amount written on cheques. It was not until I received my monthly statement did I notice my boiler service had an extra digit added taking it into the £900’s instead of £90’s ( can’t remember the exact amount). I immediately took the matter to my local branch who acknowledged the error because the wording on the cheque clearly stated the correct amount. A few days later I received a ‘phone call to say the amount overcharged had been refunded back into my account.

I contacted the boiler company who received the money who tried to fob me off by stating they couldn’t make out where the money had come from, obviously hoping I wouldn’t check my bank statement. Thankfully there was sufficient money in my account to cover the extra payment so it didn’t involve the extra hassle of going overdrawn.

This is a true story and it demonstrates that banks do make mistakes and it pays to keep a constant check on your banking transactions, whether you bank online or any other way. I did ultimately save from this whole experience by switching boiler companies to one that granted special discounts for seniors 🙂

mark d says:
4 October 2016

same has happened to me only this week, very similar to a previous post i copied and pasted the account number i needed to send online payment to and the barclays page flagged up i needed to add zero before that number , as it was going to nationwide account , i was not aware that by adding a zero the end digit would then be knocked off, i sent the payment 950 pounds and it turns out it has gone to a different account, i phoned barclays within 30 mins and was told to call back in 2 days, i’ve since emailed them today and had confirmation that they will try and reclaim my money and notify me within 25 days of outcome, but cant guarantee anything….. will now have to wait and see, if all else fails will contact ombudsman .
so someone not expecting it gets my 950 pounds, and my bank and there bank cant get it back, doesnt make sense to me.
next time i will stick with card payment or paypal, expensive lesson learnt, but will wait and see outcome before i drown my sorrows .