What to do when you transfer money to the wrong bank account

Wrong bank account

Transferring money from your account to another can have its problems - for a start, you're down on money. That's not what we're talking about here.

Sometimes, people give you the wrong bank details, or you input the wrong account number by a digit and, before you know it, a complete stranger has got your money in their account.

That's no good. So what can you do?

Sadly, the whole situation isn't as simple as merely getting your bank to reverse the transaction.

Either way, there is something that can be done - first thing to do is get in touch with your bank. It'd be a good idea, for speeding things up, if you have all your correspondence to hand, so you can give all the details to the person who is dealing with your problem, such as the date the error was made, exactly how much it was for, which account it was supposed to go to, and which account it went to in error.

Find out where the transaction went wrong too, so if you put the wrong account number in, you'll be able to tell them quickly, and they can get the problem sorted more efficiently.

You see, banks have signed-up to a voluntary code, which means your bank must do something about this. Now, you may find that the person you're speaking to at your bank says that they can't do anything about it, but they're wrong.

A number of banks have agreed to a code of practice which was drawn up by the Payments Council. You can see which banks have signed-up with the code, here.

What does this code mean?

Well, it says that your bank will commence action on your behalf within a maximum two working days.

If the person who received your money in error refuses to give you your money back, then your bank will tell you further options that you have available to you.

For example, you could bring court action against the recipient.

If you think your bank isn't following the procedure, or you're unhappy with the way they've dealt with your problem, you can take your complaint to the independent Financial Ombudsman.

The Ombudsman website is here.

You should follow your bank's complaint procedure before going to the Financial Ombudsman, however. You can ask for your bank to send you written confirmation of why they haven't chased this up for you, which you can use as evidence for the Ombudsman.

Basically, your bank has to get in touch with the bank of the person who received your funds in error, and try and get your money back. If they don't, that's when the complaints should start.

As these problems have to go through a number of people and teams, it can take a while to sort out. Banks can be reluctant to say they can fix a problem like this, but armed with the above information, you should be able to get your money back.

The Ombudsman will also look at any distress that has been caused by your bank, so if they rule in your favour, you're likely to get some compensation too, so it is well worth doing. There's more information about misdirected payments on the FO site, here.

In short:

  • Get all your information together
  • Ring your bank and ask them to fix it
  • If they don't sort it out, start a complaint with your bank
  • If that doesn't work, follow it up with the Financial Ombudsman.

1 comment

  • milky_pete

    Interesting article - I've just set up a new joint account with the girlfriend and needed to transfer a big amount into it and wondered what would happen if I got the details wrong. In the end I transferred £10, made sure it went through and then did the rest after as I then had it down as a previous recipient. Still made me worry though!

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