QoD: If a bank mistakenly deposits $100,000 into your bank account, is it now YOUR money?

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Sep 10, 2019
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Question of the Day, Checking Accounts

Hat tip to Brian Page and Lana Main for sharing this story! 

Answer: Nope.

Here's a two minute video explaining what happened to a couple in Pennsylvania who "had a bank error in their favor:" 

Questions:

  • Does this seem fair to you? Why or why not?
  • The couple in this story used the $100,000 to go on a shopping spree. Imagine you suddenly received $100,000 (legitimately and not through a bank error), how would you spend it? 

Click here for the ready-to-go slides for this Question of the Day that you can use in your classroom. 

Behind the numbers: 

WNEP reports Robert and Tiffany Williams' bank deposited $120,000 into their account on accident. It was a mistake made back in May by a teller, the news agency reports.

The couple did not contact the bank about the mistake but allegedly spent most of the money in two and a half weeks in June. Authorities say the couple bought a car trailer, a camper, two four-wheelers and an SUV. They also used some of the money on bills, cash purchases and gave $15,000 to friends in need. After realizing the mistake, the bank transferred the money to the correct account. The bank told the Williams they had to pay back $107,000 in overdraft fees...They are facing theft charges and were released on bail.

Editor's note: I had a similar situation happen to me when I was 8. My $7.00 deposit at United Jersey Bank was entered as $700 by the bank teller. When I checked my savings account passbook that night and discovered the error, my Dad (a banker himself) left no doubt what I would do next.  I would return to the bank when it opened the next morning to let them know. You can only imagine the look on the teller's face when I told her about this error. It was both a sense of relief (i'm sure they left the previous evening wondering why they couldn't balance their accounts) and embarrassment at having an 8 year old point out this error. I seem to recall getting a lollipop for my honesty:)

 

About the Author

Tim Ranzetta

Tim's saving habits started at seven when a neighbor with a broken hip gave him a dog walking job. Her recovery, which took almost a year, resulted in Tim getting to know the bank tellers quite well (and accumulating a savings account balance of over $300!). His recent entrepreneurial adventures have included driving a shredding truck, analyzing executive compensation packages for Fortune 500 companies and helping families make better college financing decisions. After volunteering in 2010 to create and teach a personal finance program at Eastside College Prep in East Palo Alto, Tim saw firsthand the impact of an engaging and activity-based curriculum, which inspired him to start a new non-profit, Next Gen Personal Finance.