If the Bank Accidentally Deposits Money in Your Account, Don’t Spend It

If the Bank Accidentally Deposits Money in Your Account, Don’t Spend It
Image: iStock

It might be tempting to keep money that’s been accidentally deposited into your bank account, but here’s a good bit of advice — don’t do it.

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.


  • I am just wondering why if this is “Lifehacker Australia” we get all references from the USA. I think that more Australian reporters and more Australian information would be much more useful and much more welcome. This isn’t the first time I read something that wasn’t really relevant to us.

    I also do like this website and have found a few interesting things that I, of course, shared.

    It doesn’t detract either from the quality of the reporting and the qualifications of an American reporter, It is informative and easy to read and understand, I just think it would be better if we could get information and reporting relevant to Australia, especially in things like this and in matters were possible accusations of criminal activity and laws are so important to the matter being reported.

    • Yes and the ads are really intrusive such as the irrelevant movie every time you go into an article.
      Same for the Gizmodo publication, much lovrd years ago.

  • Several months ago $ 1 mill appeared in my bank account. I had to count the zeros a few times!
    I checked and called the company which to which the deposit referred.
    They had no idea what I was talking about, and were quite rude about my informing them.
    I called my bank head office and was passed around from department to department including international.
    This took all day.
    Finally somebody took an interest.
    Next day the deposit had been deducted
    I called the company whose funds had been inadvertently transferred to me.
    They still knew nothing, with the previous day’s attitude.
    I had to call my bank to ask for a paper trail for taxation records.
    At no time any thanks, explanation or apology.
    It was one of the big banks.

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