Bank makes spectacular error, not in my favor

I wonder if there’s a certain amount of time the bank has to fix its mistakes. That is, if the bank puts money in your account, be it $20 or five million, when can you legally claim it as your own? There has to be some kind of statute of limitations on that.

Look at racer’s case from upthread, he did everything he could to clear up a mistake in his favor and eventually just kept the money, but what if the bank came back at him 10 years later and asked for it? Would they have any claim to it?
But with that, you’d probably give up your right to dispute debits after that same length of time.
Also, I’d imagine if the law acknowledge this, you might have to pay taxes on these errors in your favor since it is technically income.

I don’t recall a statute on it (there probably is one), but inter-bank balancing units had 180 days (90 days with a 90 day extension) to dispute an issue when I worked there. Another bank gave us an extra $300k back in the 90s and we simply could not get them to take it back; we wound up keeping it. Basically, everyone’s carrying overages and underages all the time and you just shoot for a wash by the end of the fiscal year.

From a customer standpoint - if you have an overage, wait a reasonable amount of time (a statement period, maybe two) then take the money and close your account. No matter how long it took, once we detected an error we pulled the funds if your balance had it, simply because we could. However, if the account was closed we had no (effective) legal recourse without evidence of fraud, though someone would call and ask for the money back just to take a shot. Typically, the former customer would say they already spent it. The worst I heard about in my 20-some years was a customer getting $18,000 (a $2000 item read as $20,000) and it wasn’t caught until months later.

That wasn’t my dept, but those were the tales that used to circulate, though the last came up during a meeting.

So, Jack, would this be a bad time to ask you for that fifty bucks you owe me?

If not, it’s cool, I’ll come back later. . .

I do just that for different reasons, but… BEHOLD the Target fiasco.

Yes, I shop at Target. I get prescriptions there. Yes, I was there during said time. I was getting gas last week when my debit card was turned down. What the hey? The store manager explained that many banks had gone ahead and canceled cards that had been used and are reissuing others. Luckily, I had the cash to pay the bill.

I got home and logged on to my bank account and found a message that this is exactly what happened to me. So I put the debit card from my other account in my bag and have been relying on that. But it’s been over a week now and I still don’t have the replacement card. Per my rules, I am NOT supposed to be buying groceries out of the account I am now using. Irritating as hell (FirstWorldProblem, I know).

But I am now very, very grateful for having two accounts at different banks.

My daughter apparently used her debit card at Target, too, but the credit union sent her a notice that it was replacing her card and waited to deactivate her old card until she’d activated the new one.

I don’t think credit unions make fewer mistakes than banks, but they do tend to be way nicer to deal with - probably because they tend to be smaller.

epbrown01 – $300,000? Really?

Out of curiosity, if that error had put you in the BLACK to the tune of $1.8 million, would you have started this thread, or would you and the wife be winging it to some country that does not have extradition laws?

As it’s not your money, why not just tell the bank instead?

Bureaucracy. If you call the bank, you’ll get a service rep, who can see your account info on the screen, but can’t move funds, investigate issues, etc. What has to happen is someone in account balancing has an instance of a matching shortage to your surplus. If that’s not out there or it’s been written off against someone else by mistake, you’re stuck.

In fact, calling it in rather than letting them find it could result in that - you start a case with a surplus and someone applies it to a shortage it had nothing to do with; now someone else with a surplus got free money because the case is closed.

So you don’t do the honest thing because the bank might not handle it properly, but in a way that causes you no harm? Instead, you take positive action (close your account) to make sure that the money cannot easily be returned to its rightful owner.

There is no “returned to rightful owner” - no one’s telling Aunt May she’ll lose the house because the funds are gone since that mean old amarone closed his/her account. Chasing the issue is like Ned Flanders closing his store for the day to track down the person he shorted a penny. They check that there was a problem, make the correction if it’s valid, and move on.

Like any business, banks allow for these sorts of occurrences, and have protocols in place. Where I used to work, we didn’t even investigate cases under $200 over or under - the bean counters realized 50% of the workload was this small stuff, so they could lay off half the dept, write off all the cases under the cut-off amount and still come out ahead. So we created a case number, plugged it in the system, ignored it and hoped the overs and unders evened out by the end of the year (and it was always pretty close). If it got really slow and you wanted to give people busywork, you threw them on those cases rather than send them home early or something.

But hey, let your consciience be your guide.

But this doesn’t explain our recent experience. We were charged $124 for a head of cauliflower. (But at least we saved $124 thanks to our store card!)

For produce per item, they punch in a code then how many. It could have been the price in the computer was wrong, but they would have had dozens of people getting the same mistake earlier in the day. (And since they turned around and gave it to us for free, we weren’t able to see if it was rung up wrong again.)

There is always a rightful owner. If the money is in your account because of an error in making a deposit and the intended recipient does not notice, that person is out the money. If the bank has to correct the error, then the bank shareholders are the rightful owners.

And retailers allow for shrinkage. It doesn’t make shoplifting excusable though.

My brother’s favorite banking horror story comes from about 3 decades back, where just before a holiday weekend he deposited his paycheck, then couldn’t get money all weekend and the ATM showed him having a negative balance.
When trying to get a teller to figure out what went wrong, he asked if he could look at the account activity on her screen, then showed her where his deposit had been entered as a withdrawal instead. Then the person handling that had realized their mistake, and tried to undo it by entering it as a withdrawal again. Several times.
They seemed to feel that just correcting his balance was enough, and he was due nothing for not having had access to his money for the holiday.

Maybe I’ve been lucky (or oblivious), but I haven’t had any issues with any of my banks. I was once charged for something twice and had a hell of a time getting the money back, but that was the store’s fault, not the bank.

I was shopping with my mother a few months ago and she almost fell over when she saw the ATM printout after withdrawing $100 for shopping. Her account was missing about 8k! We got to a branch just before closing time, and asked them to look into recent purchases, in case her card had been compromised. But the computer showed all her money exactly where it should be. The problem? An old printer ribbon in the ATM left the “thousands” column blank. I’m guessing they had more than one panicked person come in that week!

The bank didn’t send you a notice in the mail? Or an email? That’s ridiculous and I’d call them and give them hell. I got a letter from my CU saying I only had a week left before my debit card would be cut off, and I should come into my branch or go online to get a new one. to be fair, the letter gave me two weeks notice, but it sat on the counter a while because it looked like junk mail.

Of course not, I am an honest person!

And I seem to recall instances in the past where people have tried to take advantage of such errors and it did not turn out well for them.

I confine my ill-gotten takings to the change I occasionally find in vending machines (which of course does not balance out all the dough those machines have stolen from me).

I had such a bank error in my favor once. Apparently the teller duplicated my account number as the amount of deposit. Resulted in a large 8 figure boost to my balance for a few days until they figured it out.

I did try to inform the bank manager after a day or two but he was very short with me and didn’t fully listen. He kept insisting that any error would have been reconciled the same day.

Alas I doubt my local branch had $70+ million in cash on hand for me to make a withdrawal and run for it.

Maybe you purchased Stonehenge. How cool would that be? :wink:

Probably qualified for free shipping as well!

Worth mentioning, perhaps, the story of Patrick Combs: