This popped in my head a few weeks ago when transferring my deposit of 5% for my apartment in Brussels. Say that at the end of a busy day, you still have to make a large payment to a company or a friend. It’s best not something you do while not being focussed but a mistake is easily made. Especially now that transfers are made online and no longer through a physical office.
In case of an old or wrong account number, the damage is not so bad. Money that is deposited into a closed account is automatically returned. If you enter a wrong account number, the payment will seldom take place in practice.
Each account has a certain format. There is a control number at the end which makes this type of mistake almost impossible.
Wrong payment? Bank doesn't check
But what if that doesn’t happen? What if you entered a too high amount, a zero or number too much for example. Or you choose the wrong one from the list of stored beneficiaries. what then?
Well, then you have a problem, because the bank never checks whether an account belongs to the person mentioned on the online transfer. How can they know to who or which company you want to transfer a certain amount at a random moment?
In theory this could maybe be predicted based on your payment or transaction history. ING made a micro step [NL] in predicting your payments but for the moment this is just a glorified view of your fixed payments.
Another scenario can be that you have deposited the money to the right person, which you have to check yourself. If you didn’t and you were scattered, you have to switch to plan B.
In the first instance, contact your bank. They may be able to stop the transfer. If this does not work, the bank may want to contact the beneficiary’s bank and ask it to refund the amount.
Keep a close eye on the evidence of the wrong payment. If you do not know to whom you have transferred – for example in the event of a typo in the account number – contact your bank: it will ask the payee bank for the details of the person to whom you have mistakenly transferred your money.
Please note that this is important because you can never cancel a bank transfer. No matter how fast you are to notify your bank after a mistake. You can only ask your bank to recover the money wrongly transferred if it has made a mistake itself and, for example, made a transfer more than once. In other cases, the following rule applies to the bank: paid is paid. You do not have to count on a refund from the bank itself.
When your bank contacts the receiver, there is a chance that the other party will refuse to cooperate. Even then, you don’t have to panic. Is he or she not responding? You have the right to reclaim the money yourself from the person in whose account it was deposited. Then send a registered letter to the beneficiary of the transfer. He or she is then legally obliged to refund it. Your bank can also provide the details to contact them though they might not comply right away due to privacy reasons.
If all else fails and the wrong beneficiary refuses, you can go to court if the amount involved is significant.
You will get back the wrong amount and the beneficiary will have to pay the costs of the lawsuit.
Chargeback of your payment
You are more lucky if the incorrect payment is not made with a regular debit card but with a credit card of e.g. Visa, MasterCard, American Express. There are then possibilities to be reimbursed outside of the beneficiary.
Did you place an online order that you paid with your credit card, but the package does not arrive or the seller is bankrupt? Then you can recover your money via charge backs.
It is sufficient to fill in the dispute form of the issuer of your credit card within a period of 3 months after the transaction. For my Belgian readers that have a Visa or MasterCard go to www.mijnkaart.be [NL] and for American Express go to their own site [NL] If you are unable to prove that you are entitled to a refund and that you have made every effort, you may be able to count on a refund from the credit card issuer.