Bank error in your favor: $9.8 billion
Yes, that headline says 'billion.' But that amount didn't stop the account holder from doing the right thing.
If there were an award for most honest person in the world, Parijat Saha would be a great candidate. The schoolteacher in India saw online that $9.8 billion -- or, rather, 496 billion rupees -- had been deposited into his account and called the bank to report the mistake.
The BBC reports:
Mr. Saha's monthly salary as a school teacher in the eastern state of West Bengal is 35,000 rupees ($700; £450).
But his account balance of $9.8 billion is closer to India's annual education budget of $11.5 billion.
Officials at the State Bank of India -- its motto is "Safe banking with SBI," the BBC notes -- won't explain how such an astronomical sum appeared in Saha's account. "Red-faced bank officials would not comment, but sources say the funds were 'uncleared' and he could not have withdrawn the money if he had tried," the BBC said.
Bruce Watson observed at DailyFinance that much smaller bank errors -- even those in six figures -- have motivated other less-honest folks to take the money and run. That often ends badly -- with a trip to prison. Post continues below.
Sorry, but you are not entitled to money that is erroneously deposited in your account.
What would you do if this happened to you? At a CBC News online poll, 47.1% said they'd alert the bank immediately, and 19.21% said they'd wait for the bank to fix the mistake but wouldn't try to spend the money. But 20.23% picked "spend as much of the money as I possibly could." Were those folks being serious? Who knows?
But these bank errors seem to happen more often than you'd think.
One CBC reader, "Clateam61," told a story of how years ago Clateam61 tried to withdraw $20 at an ATM, but it produced $40 instead. The receipt showed only $20. Clateam61 told the bank, which rewarded Clateam61 with the extra 20 bucks. The timely report of trouble probably saved the bank a bundle.
"It made me feel good, but I was grateful for the opportunity to model honesty to my three children. They are all adults now and are extremely honest people," Clateam61 said.
Sometimes honesty is its own reward. CBC reader "LurkNoMore" found about $3,500 in a rarely used account, about a month after the bank has erroneously put it there, then had to argue with the teller to get the bank to take the money out. "Imagine my surprise when I saw that the 'deposit' and the subsequent 'withdrawal' garnered me extra bank fees!" LurkNoMore said.
LurkNoMore called the bank, was put on hold for the longest time and finally got the bank to drop the fees. But is it any wonder that big banks are so unpopular?
What's your bank error story?
More on MSN Money:
I sat down to wait for my bus, and a minute later a man approached the window and talked to the lady. She pointed towards me, and the man walked up to me and explained to me that he was renting a new apartment and the money was for his deposit. Then he said it looks like YOU could use a little money too, and handed me $100!!
If my bank mistakenly deposited a billion dollars in my account, I would arrange a transfer to another bank with an interest bearing account. When contacted by the bank which had made the error, I'd tell them that I'm only doing with their money what they do with my money and return it, keeping the interest.
In the game of Monopoly a "Chance" card states, "Bank error in your favor, collect $200." I've never seen the day when that was ever true.
I hope this person received just 1/1000 of 1 percent of ANYTHING for helping the bank correct its mistake. The money was never his but he helped the bank locate over 9 BILLION dollars...at least pay the man the dollar figure of what an accountant would have received for working 30 seconds to rebalance the books!
I would return the money. You are nothing without personal integrity. What's that old saying, "character is what you do when no one's looking"
Many years ago I was sitting in one of three drive-up banking lanes (the middle one) waiting for the whoosh of the air tube to bring me my money from a check I had just cashed and when it arrived I had barely opened it to see several hundred in cash when whoosh, here comes another one, mine actually.
I instictively realized that the first carrier that came down the tube belonged to the guy next to me on my right, the guy in the Gremlin with at least 3, maybe 4 kids and the wife, all of them waiting for the money from Dad's paycheck (it was Friday) so they could hit the local Steak & Shake.
I could have removed my money from my carrier, returned it to the tube and drove off, the thought never crossed my mind, not until much later, just for a minute, I just closed up the carrier and sent it back to the teller and said I'm okay, thanks anyhow, dropped my carrier back in and drove off.
Those folks probably never realized what happened or what could have happened but that's okay too.
Even though I'd handle the situation exactly the same today as I did back then, but there is no such thing as Karma, good bad or otherwise, what goes around does not necessarily come around but I guess what matters is how you feel about yourself and about those around us.
If the Bank ever screws up and puts some of its money within my reach i can't say the result would be the same.......
Re: The Bank of America overdraft case.
I never got one penny from the case, over the 10 years I was a customer they charged me over $3000 for overdrafts. On top of that they screwed up my credit rating.
I am no longer a customer at B of A.
The next week I went thru the drive thru and she wasn't there. I asked the girl where she was and the girl said that she had been fired last week after she came up $700 short and couldn't account for it. to which I replied 'That's such a shame..."
I am not saying that this guy should have gotten anywhere near the amount of the accidental deposit. However I do agree with several others, he should be given a rather sizable reward by the bank just for being so honest and saving the bank more than the deposit, but also the subsiquent investigation costs etc, and a world of bad press. (I do think word getting out that the bank making such mistakes without prompt correction would most likely affect their credit in a very bad way. Who wants to back a bank that does that?)
The last story told of the reader who tried to be honest about a $3.5K mistake, and being charged fees to fix said bank error, when it was never his fault in the first place??? I certainly hope he reported that bank to the authorities, and even with all the extra work, pursued the matter until the fees were taken care of. Also I really hope they contacted their local news and let others know not to bank there.
Copyright © 2013 Microsoft. All rights reserved.
Quotes are real-time for NASDAQ, NYSE and AMEX. See delay times for other exchanges.
ABOUT SMART SPENDING
Editor Bev O'Shea lives and works in the foothills of the Appalachians. A former copy editor for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and the Orlando Sentinel, she joined MSN Money in 2007. She's a fan of sunsets, college football and free shipping, among other things.
Having worked as a writer, reporter and editor for more than 25 years, Editor Julie Tilsner is the sort of person who can't help but correct grammar in Facebook postings and on billboards. She's written for BusinessWeek, the Los Angeles Times, Parenting, Redbook, AOL and others. She lives in Los Angeles County with her family and loves to drink wine and practice yoga, although not generally at the same time.
A writer for MSN Money since January 2007, Donna Freedman won regional and national prizes during an 18-year newspaper career and earned a college degree in midlife without taking out student loans. She also writes about smart money tactics for magazines and on her own site, Surviving and Thriving.
Mitch Lipka has been warning people about scams and shining light on questionable business practices for more than 20 years. Mitch, the consumer columnist for The Boston Globe, has also been a reporter and editor at The Philadelphia Inquirer, Consumer Reports, South Florida Sun-Sentinel and AOL. He won the 2010 New York Press Club award for best consumer reporting online and was honored in 2011 for his reporting on child product safety.
Marilyn Lewis is an award-winning writer with a passion for getting readers clear, straight information that helps them stay out of financial trouble. A former reporter for The San Jose Mercury News, she works from her home in Port Townsend, Wash. Contact her at MarilynLewis@Outlook.com.