/ 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.


Regarding the case of Tony Moss and FOS and the Small Claims Court. I am very surprised at the apparent verdict as it is quite well-known that if a Bank misapplies a credit to your account then they can recover it from you.

There are some small caveats where they cannot but in the vast majority of cases the misapplying Bank would recover the money. That the money went to an apparent dormant loan account would suggest the miscreant had no access to the money and therefore the only beneficiary was RBS. AFAIR from my Banking law training this smells wrong. It would be highly enlightening to see the full details of the case.

FOS has been under considerable strain with fluctuating numbers of staff over the last few years and I am aware that there have been complaints about several ajudications.


As Solicitors do not have to be used in the Small Claims Court, it may be possible for mistakes to go unnoticed to a greater extent than a higher Court.

Given your comments about Banking Law and complaints about several ajudications, it would be interesting if WHICH Solicitors would give their considered opinion(s) on the matter of misapplied banking payments such as in the example of Tony Moss above.

When money is paid into an HSBC branch (if memory serves me correctly), it requires a) Name of the Account Holder, 2) Sort code & 3) Account No.
A mistake in the account number would usually mean name and account don’t match unless both parties have the same name such as John Smith.

Is it possible that in the example of Tony Moss above, RBS refunded the money fearing the public intervention of a legal or banking expert who might have suggested going to appeal thus incurring massive costs for RBS if they lost.


This article is timely because I have just paid in a cheque to a charity account, at a local HSBC bank. I am fairly sure that I got the sort code and account number right, but wondered what would happen if I had made a mistake.


This does highlight your responsibilities in operating your bank accounts. If you make a mistake, whilst your bank should do all it can to help you it cannot be held responsible for your error. A previous conversation illustrated someone’s mistake in transferring regular monthly payments into their savings account; never checked it until over a year later and found the’d got the account number wrong, and the recipient had spent all the money. As far as I know they were left with the loss.


I have now checked and I did remember the account number and sort code correctly. Most of the payments I make these days are online or I hand over cheques to someone with a paying-in book.

With our society having a unique name, hopefully HSBC could cope with an error in either the account number or sort code if I had made a mistake. If the account number and sort code don’t match with the name of the payee, then the bank should not process the cheque.


wavechange, if I remember rightly from the last conversation on this topic the bank does not take account of the name of the payee, just sort code and account number. Is this correct?


If that is the case, I wonder if banks are fit to be trusted with our money.


Why is it we need to find someone else to criticise when we make a mistake? The banks do help recover money paid in error, but if that proves impossible we cannot blame them.


If the banks ask for the name of the payee and then do not use it, they deserve criticism.

Maybe if they did use the information provided then fewer errors would be made.


The Conversation that revealed that the account number and sort code but not the account name was used in transactions is entitled: “How one woman made a £26,000 mistake” That referred to multiple direct debit periods over a long period, so is rather different from a mistake on a single cheque.


This conversation intro is “What happens if you enter the wrong payment details when trying to transfer money online?”. As dieseltaylor says if the bank is given an incorrect instruction the money may not be recoverable. The £26000 error highlights you need to be careful. I’m not sure about the cheque problem – I’ve only made cheques out to a named payee and given them the cheques. They can check the details are correct.


If I pay in a cheque and make a minor error in either the sort code, or the account number, or the name of the payee, then surely it is the responsibility of the bank to check that they match. It has never happened, but I am sure that common sense would prevail if it did. If banks are the name of the payee or failing to check the signature on cheques then they are not doing a very good job, are they?

Customers can make mistakes and banks can make mistakes. Hopefully common sense can be applied where needed.


That should read: ‘If banks ignore the name of the payee or fail to check the signature on cheques then they are not doing a very good job, are they?’