In the age of mobile banking transfers, even a small mistake in a bank account number might result in payments being made to the wrong individual instead of the one who was intended to receive them. Many bank customers who regularly transact money find themselves in this unfortunate reality.
In certain cases, funds have been accidentally transferred to the wrong account number, making it challenging to return the funds. As a result, clients swarm the banking hall, causing problems that are entirely their fault and not the banks’.
Most of the time, it is not a problem with banks that leads to customers paying money into the wrong account by mistake because banks always advise customers to carefully verify the bank account details of the recipient of their funds before making payment, but these wrongful money transfers do occur and quite frequently due to customers’ negligence or inadvertence.
In this post, we attempt to examine the relationship between banks and their clients as well as how to assist customers in getting money back that has been mistakenly transferred to the wrong bank account.
THE RELATIONSHIP THAT EXIST BETWEEN A BANK AND ITS CUSTOMERS
Let us first establish the type of relationship that a bank has with its customers before we can consider how to retrieve the money being paid into the wrong account.
A banker’s and a customer’s relationship is that of a debtor and a creditor. It is the consumer who opens an account with the bank and deposits funds into it. A banker’s profession entails receiving money and treating it as if it were his own, making him liable to the person who lent or placed it with him. One of the provisions of the implied contract between a banker and a customer is that any money lent to the bank is not due until the customer who paid it in makes a demand for it.
Therefore, the bank can only release funds held in its custody upon the request of the customer who made the deposit. If a customer mistakenly authorises a bank to pay funds via an electronic transfer, a cheque written out by a bank teller, or over the counter, the bank is not responsible for carrying out such transactions.
As stated in section 61 of the Banks and Other Financial Institutions Decree No. 25 of 1991, “banking business” refers to the activity of accepting deposits on current accounts, savings accounts, or other comparable accounts, as well as the payment or collection of client checks that have been drawn on or paid into accounts. As a result, in this type of company, the bank does not unilaterally lend money to another client without the depositor’s consent.
WHO OWNS THE MONEY DEPOSITED INTO A BANK?
Any money deposited into a bank becomes the bank’s property as soon as it is deposited, establishing a debtor-customer relationship between the bank and the consumer. In fact, the bank uses its own funds to make payments. As a result, when money is placed into a bank by a client, a contract between the bank and the customer is formed, under which the bank accepts the funds as a loan from the customer in exchange for a commitment from the bank to always honour the customer’s checks and other orders.
A CUSTOMER’S LEGAL ENTITLEMENT TO FUNDS DEPOSITED INTO HIS ACCOUNT WITH THE BANK
Money held by the customer but held by the bank is not in the custody or control of the customer. Such funds continue to be the bank’s property, under its custody and control, and are receivable to the client upon demand. This is true because the bank, not the customer, is responsible for any losses if anything happens to the money afterward, such as theft. The customer’s cause of action is for damages within their contractual relationship when they make a demand, such writing a cheque, and the bank refuses to pay.
When a customer transfers money into the wrong bank account in the matter at hand, it cannot be claimed that the bank created the error by moving the money into the wrong account on the customer’s behalf. This is due to the fact that a bank cannot start a transaction on its own without the customer’s permission. As a result, in this case, a customer’s claim to reimbursement for funds accidentally transferred to the wrong account expires and may only be resolved through the legal system.
HOW TO PROVE THAT MONEY WAS PAID INTO THE INCORRECT BANK ACCOUNT
When a customer accidentally transfers funds to the wrong account number, it can be proven either by showing the bank teller the SMS, email, or short message service (SMS) notification that the bank sent to debit the customer’s account for the amount to his credit, as well as oral testimony from the person who actually transferred the funds, or by showing the bank a receipt that clearly states that it received the payments.
The onus is on the account holder to establish, through credible evidence, that he made the alleged payments into the bank and that the bank acknowledged the payments when there is a dispute in court over whether or not the stamp and initials on a bank’s payment counterfoil constitute evidence of receipts of the amount paid into a bank account. The onus is on the bank to show what it actually received in cases where there is any shortfall between the amount shown on the counterfoil and the amount the bank actually received.
HOW TO GET BACK YOUR MONEY PAID INTO AN INCORRECT BANK ACCOUNT
These are some of the methods to recover the incorrect payment when the consumer discovers that the money he paid was inadvertently put into the incorrect account:
CONTACTING THE BANK
The customer is expected to notify his bank as soon as possible about the incorrect payment by calling the customer service helpline. The bank will be in the greatest position to address these situations in this situation to prevent its customer from losing his money to an unidentified third party.
SEEK LEGAL ADVICE
In the event that the bank is unable to assist the customer in recovering money that was accidentally transferred to the wrong account, the customer is required to consult with an attorney who will assist him in filing a legal complaint against the customer’s bank and the third party whose name and bank account the money was accidentally transferred into.
OBTAIN COURT ORDER
The court will have to consider the evidence presented by the applicant when deciding whether to accept a request for the indicated amount of money that was inadvertently placed into the wrong account to be returned to the applicant’s account. In cases where a court orders that the money be returned to the client, it is the responsibility of the attorney who represented the client to apply to the court that issued the order, obtain a certified true copy of the court order, and serve it on the bank, which will then comply with the court order’s instructions.
Money paid into a bank does not belong to the customer because a debtor/creditor relationship has been established when the client deposits the money into the bank, which is a common legal premise. In spite of the fact that the bank receives ownership of the money after the consumer pays for it, the bank is unable to give it to the customer without their request or mandate. When a customer instructs the bank to transfer money, the bank has a responsibility to follow that order, especially if there are no limits on the customer’s account and the money is to the customer’s credit. As a result, the bank will not be held responsible for any incorrect transfers made as a result of a customer’s negligence or carelessness when the bank executes a customer’s request for payment.
However, a prompt complaint from the consumer to the bank regarding such erroneous transfers can save the situation by undoing the money that was moved in error. If the bank is unable to assist the customer, the legal system would be the last recourse in such circumstances.