In 2019, a couple in the US was facing felony charges for buying an SUV, a race car, and two four-wheelers, and then handing out $US15,000 to their friends after a bank teller accidentally deposited $US120,000 into their joint bank account. About three weeks after the deposit debacle — but only a day after the couple finished spending more than $US107,000 of the MONEY — the bank came calling asking for it all back. Talk about awkward.
Since “What to do if money shows up in your bank account” is a search string that Google quickly autofills (I’m surprised, but am I really?), let’s go over the nuts and bolts of what belongs to you and what doesn’t.
This is not like that rule where if you receive a package a retailer accidentally sent you, you get to keep it. You do not get to keep any extra money that wanders into your bank account.
“Eventually, the bank will come back to the customer. First they’ll reverse the transaction but also potentially generate a police report after effective research, meaning the bank will contact the customer … and ask the logical questions,” Doug Johnson of the ABA told NBC News in 2017. If you notice something out of the ordinary and don’t alert your bank, the bank and potentially also the police are going to wonder why not.
And consider this: If transactions could get mixed up by sheer human error, you could find that someday your hard-earned money could end up in someone else’s account, too. Speaking up about unusual activity (on both the positive and negative side) you notice in your account can alert banks to security and procedural issues that may extend beyond your personal balance.
Sharing is caring, except when you’re trying to share the $120,000 that dropped into your account unannounced.
This article has been updated since its original publication.