Bank error in my favor, for a day

On Tuesday, I logged into my bank account to find $6,000 had appeared – more money than I ever had in a savings or checking account. While I hoped I had forgotten about some windfall coming my way, I knew I was part of a rare bank error, that just happened to be in my favor. By yesterday evening, the money was gone again – a “retrieval withdrawal.” It isn’t all that uncommon, according to an article on Bankrate.com.

Despite the overwhelming justification for why the universe owes you this money, it’s as untouchable as a spanking-new sports car with the keys in the ignition and the doors wide open. Give in to temptation and you could find yourself going straight to jail — or at least being threatened with jail if you don’t want to part with the ill-gotten gains.

Though I honestly thought – for a moment – about trying to make a large, cash withdrawal, I decided the more sensible irrational move would be to go to my bank and explain. I had time for neither and in 24 hours the situation was solved. Had I I tried for the greedier move, the results could have gotten sticky, according to the same article.

According to the district attorney’s office in Walworth County, Wis., a man was charged with theft when a check for more than $49,000 was accidentally deposited into his account at Fifth Third Bank. “He was having financial difficulties so he spent it,” Walworth County district attorney Phillip Koss says. “When the bank asked for it back, he put them off. But when he was charged with theft he came up with the money.”

Besides having to cough up the misappropriated funds, he also paid a $500 fine.

Mistakes will always happen. “Due to the sheer volume of transactions that go through here every day, it does happen that sometimes mistakes are made — sometimes ‘unjust enrichment’ as it’s called, or overcredits. But, undercredits can happen as well,” says Stephanie Honan, a spokeswoman for Fifth Third Bank.

Though corporate America can strike the wrath of God in me for taking theirs, if an “undercredit” came, it’s not exactly the same, as I read.

When the bank happens to take $120 out of your account when you only got $60 from the ATM, you have a window of 60 days to dispute the transaction. After that

– too bad, so sad and don’t bother complaining to the bank. A federal law known as the Electronic Funds Transfer Act limits the period in which you can notify your bank of a mistake in your account to 60 days from the date the statement containing the error was sent.

If your debit card gets lost or stolen, better act quickly because you have two measly business days to completely limit your liability to a cap of $50. Check transactions are governed by a separate set of rules, the Uniform Commercial Code and the Check 21 Act in the case of substitute checks, which also limit the time you have to dispute a transaction — except in the case of electronic check conversion wherein you’re once again covered by the EFTA. [Source]

Photo courtesy of Chad Van Norman – if you have a moment, do check out his ridiculous, ridiculous site.

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