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

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If you've ever had a fat-fingered lapse and accidentally transferred money to the wrong bank account, don't panic - here's how to get your money back.

The New Payments Platform, which was launched in 2018, means depositing money in the wrong account should be less common.

Under the platform, money will only be deposited if it's sent to an account with matching BSB and account numbers. If they don't match, the money will bounce back to your account.

what to do if you transfer money to the wrong bank account

If you do accidentally make a transfer to a valid account, you need to contact your bank or financial institution as soon as possible. The chance of recovering the money decreases the more time goes by.

The Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA) outlines the deteriorating timeline associated with recovering mistaken transfers:

Within 10 business days: the funds will be returned to you. However, if the unintended recipient withdraws the funds, then you may not get the payment back.

Between 10 business days and seven months: the recipient's bank will freeze the funds. The recipient will then have 10 business days to show they are entitled to the funds. If they do not, the funds will be returned to you.

After seven months: the funds will only be returned if the other person agrees to return them. Even if you prove the funds are yours, ASIC's ePayments code states that the recipient is entitled to keep them.

"Contact your bank and provide them with the details around when the transaction was made, the amount of the transaction and bank account details," recommends a CBA spokesperson.

"The sooner you inform your bank, the quicker they can work to fix it."

The course of action for a mistaken BPAY transfer is much the same. First, contact the company to which you sent the funds and try to organise a transfer back. The next step is to contact the bank, which can everse the payment.

Finally, if your bank or credit union isn't playing ball, you can lodge a complaint with the financial ombudsman.

As always, prevention is the best cure when it comes to mistaken payments.

Before making a transfer check the recipient's details (BSB, account number, bank address and amount) with them before confirming any further transfers.

"The most important thing is for customers to closely check all payments being sent, as they are processed by the account and BSB numbers rather than the account name," says a National Australia Bank spokesperson.

"Double-check when inputting the details on a transaction and before you submit it for processing," adds a spokesperson for Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA).

"Customers can also use PayID to send and receive money (using a mobile number or email address) which can help with this process."

This article was updated at 2.25pm on July 21, 2020.

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David Thornton is a journalist at Money magazine. He previously worked at Your Money, covering market news as producer of Trading Day Live. Before that, he covered business and finance news at The Constant Investor. David holds a Masters of International Relations from the University of Melbourne.
Comments
John Westin
July 18, 2020 8.07am

And if the person received the money in the wrong account withdraw the money somewhere else, what can the bank do ? They are not going to dip into their pocket & reimburse you ?!!!!!!!!!!!

Sharleen Mulawin
July 18, 2020 8.11am

So you're saying a bank transfer can be reclaimed within 10 business days.

My sister had $10k transferred out of her account by a hacker.

They knew something was suspicious the same day and raced to the bank to stop it.

Action was taken within 6 hours and the bank could not freeze and retrieve the funds.

Hugh Jarss
July 18, 2020 5.36pm

I'm not sure you are correct saying if the transaction is within ten days you can get the money back. What if you sold a car to someone or any item for that matter and after they had taken delivery of it they snatched back the funds that they had paid into your bank account. I believe that you can only get your money back if you pay it into the wrong account if the other person agrees regardless of how soon you try.

Linda H
July 29, 2020 12.38pm

I believe this only applies to personal bank accounts, not business accounts.

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