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The Bank Deposits $1,000,000 Into Your Savings Account…

This article was written by in Banking. 18 comments.

On the local news last night, I caught one of those lighter stories, used for filler when the channel’s news producer can’t seem to find other news that will attract viewers. A bank mistakenly deposited $1,000,000 into a woman’s savings account. She was not happy about it, and the bank was not taking back the money in any sort of expedited fashion. Her savings account number was one digit off from a large financial company’s account number.

The station asked viewers to write in and express their opinions: What would you do if your bank deposited $1,000,000 into your account. According to the responses they aired, most would give it back to the bank. One viewer mentioned he would keep the funds in his account until the bank asked for the money back. And as one might guess, others saw no problem with spending the money thanks to the bank’s error.

It reminds me of Patrick Combs’ Depositing the Junk Check story, though in this case, it is entirely the bank’s fault. So what would you do?

Updated September 24, 2015 and originally published December 6, 2006. If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the RSS feed or receive daily emails. Follow @ConsumerismComm on Twitter and visit our Facebook page for more updates.

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About the author

Luke Landes is the founder of Consumerism Commentary. He has been blogging and writing for the internet since 1995 and has been building online communities since 1991. Find out more about Luke Landes and follow him on Twitter. View all articles by .

{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar dimes

I’d hope they’d let me keep the accumulated interest, at least! I’d probably call them and ask what gives. You KNOW they’ll retrieve the accidental deposit. We always tell military personnel and their wives that if they find extra money, NOT to spend it because it WILL eventually be taken back, and oftentimes a lot quicker than it was given.

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avatar Sun

I will let the bank know the error, but if they refuse to take it back, then I will keep the money in my account, but will no spend it. Yes, they will eventually take it back.

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avatar Jeremy

I’d create a frivolous lawsuit against the bank when they pulled the money back out of my account citing various forms of psychological anguish the incident had caused. That’s the American way!

Just kidding, obviously I’d notify them and be sure not to spend any of it.

A similar thing happened to an old client of mine, it wasn’t a bank account but a brokerage account. An IRA actually. One day he checked his account online and noticed his account was suddenly about 170k more than it should be. We of course notified the proper party and waited for it to be transfered back out.

Anyway, it took over a month for them to rectify the problem. It happened to be a rollover deposit that had one number transposed.

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avatar Dus10

I would certainly be honest, but I would pray that they would let me keep the interest.

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avatar Lazy Man and Money

Depending on the interest rate I was getting, I’d move it to the high interest account. When the bank finally figured out their mistake (and I’m sure they would), I’d give the money back to them (minus interest). I don’t think you are under any legal obligation to report the bank’s mistakes, but I think I’d check into that with a lawyer.

Some may say that keeping the interest is wrong. Well ask yourself if a company, that short-changed you, ever offered you back interest. More than likely you had to wait 4-6 weeks for a check to get cut — with no interest.

I’ve spent enough time on the phone with customer service representatives correcting errors that hurt me. I think it’d be up to the bank to catch up with me at my convenience. What’s good for the goose is good for the gander right?

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avatar samerwriter

Well we all know from Monopoly that a bank error in your favor is worth $200.

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avatar MoneyFwd

I wouldn’t move the money or anything because I think that would make it a bit more obvious that they made the mistake. I would request to keep the interest that accrues, at least as a thank you for not spending the money.

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avatar Matt

I’d keep the interest or at least ask to keep it if they tried to take that back as well. It’s an error on their part.

The other option is to very quickly drop the money into a numbered account in say the Caymans, bounce it between a few institutions that don’t divulge banking information and retire… but that’s theft and requires a lot of effort.

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avatar Lazy Man and Money

MoneyFwd, I like the way you think. I will change my answer to moving all but my 1M to another account and setting up an automated money check for the interest to myself or another account. Neither of these are big transactions (unless you have a lot of money in the account to begin with) that would draw attention. And when the bank finally realizes their mistake, they wouldn’t be able to get more than the 1M of their mistake.

Hmm, perhaps you can slowly move money to another account in an automated way, perhaps 1K a day or something, without drawing attention.

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avatar makingourway

I wouldn’t play around moving the money. I’m sure the depository agreement gives the bank the right to reverse the trasnaction – what would happen if the money was missing – mighty big bounce!
I’d notify them immediately and let it be.

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avatar SCapitalist

It would be so tempting to try and tranfer the money to an offshore account… But in the end, I would probably notify the bank of the error. I like my life. I do not have any intention of spending the next 10 years of my life in a 10×10 cell with a man named “Teabag”.

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avatar Debt Hater

It’s our duty to report the error to the bank as soon as possible. If the bank drags its feet on fixing the error, than the least they can do is let us keep the interest. However, I wouldn’t spend the money on karma principles — it isn’t my money and I did nothing to earn it, so spending it is tantamount to stealing and I don’t want that to come back to bite me. It’s not worth it.

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avatar Saving U From Credit Cards

If I saw $1M accidentally appear in my bank account here is what I would do:

1. Do a big time happy dance.
2. Allow the euphoria to subside
3. Explain to my wife why I was doing the happy dance
4. Listen to her tell me that I need to call the bank and have this corrected as soon as possible.

Now, I know when opportunity knocks and I know the money will soon be gone so…

I would find a short term guaranteed interest certificate, make a few bucks and await the banks “nasty call”.

Sure, I would give it back but I would let as much interest accumulate as possible.

Hmmm…Maybe try to delay the return of the money by taking things to the court system.

Other ideas:
Get the money off-shore and retire to a tropical island :)

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avatar spiral

this just happened to me! but the deposit was only just over a grand though.

i havn’t told the bank yet as i want to check its not a donation to my christmas car fund from a kindly relative that wanted to remain annonymous for the time being but then will send a card explaining it all on the big day!!

seriously, it did cause me joy and then anguish as, untill a few months, ago i had almost that same amount in the account. as i’d forgotten some fees had gone out of it, for a few hours i was really happy and started planning ‘better’ presents for my family. then i remembered paying that fee and realised the mistake. good job i didnt go shopping in the interim. damn bank.

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avatar BILLY

This heres a story about billy joe and bobbie sue
Two young lovers with nothin better to do
Than sit around the house, get high, and watch the tube
And here is what happened when they decided to cut loose

They headed down to, ooh, old el paso
Thats where they ran into a great big hassle
Billy joe shot a man while robbing his castle
Bobbie sue took the money and run

Go on take the money and run
Go on take the money and run
Go on take the money and run
Go on take the money and run

Billy mack is a detective down in texas
You know he knows just exactly what the facts is
He aint gonna let those two escape justice
He makes his livin off of the peoples taxes

Bobbie sue, whoa, whoa, she slipped away
Billy joe caught up to her the very next day
They got the money, hey
You know they got away
They headed down south and theyre still running today
Singin go on take the money and run
Go on take the money and run
Go on take the money and run
Go on take the money and run
Go on take the money and run
Go on take the money and run
Go on take the money and run


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avatar Means No Cents

I’d have to return it to the bank and hope for a reward (however small or marginal).

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avatar Joey Clarke

If they did it by mistake, and I noticed, then I would comment. I would say, “It’s about time my money shows on a Savings account, that way I could withdraw my money by the thousands.”
Since, in fact I have a few million, I would expect to deposit that money also.
If the bank manager agrees to this, I would let them keep a thousand to make up for this one mistake.

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avatar Sirena Morena

This happened to me, but with a smaller amont of money ($5000) and the bank did not take the money until eight months later.
It is actually a banking trick – to get rid of “high risk accounts”- whuch is what I later found out from one of the banks collection severvice agents. It really sucks it is better to move your money to another account and leave the banks error in the banks hands.


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