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Home > Resolution of weird bank problem--kind of scary

Resolution of weird bank problem--kind of scary

February 12th, 2007 at 07:21 am

OK, here's what the bank said happened. The other person was paying their credit card bill by phone and by mistake, put in my account number instead of theirs. It's only one number different. The $19 should be returned to my account later today.

I'm assuming it was an honest mistake. OTOH, one could assume that if someone is paying $19 on a credit card by phone, it might be because they have to make the minimum payment at the last possible minute. If someone knew they didn't have enough in their own checking account, and felt desperate, I can imagine how they might try using a slightly different account number in hopes that the other account would cover the payment, if only temporarily. Then they could just say Oops.

Kind of like when people used to mail the phone company check to the electric company and tried to pass it off as an honest mistake. (I actually read that as a suggestion in a book once!)

I'm glad it's fixed, and I'm glad it was such a small amount that it didn't make other checks or debit charges of mine bounce. BUT...

I would have thought that when someone pays by electronic check, the software would look to see if the name or address and the account number go together. But apparently not. As long as there's money in the checking account, no matter whose checking account it is, the payment will go through.

People worry about debit cards--there seems like plenty of opportunity for fraud with plain old checking accounts.

4 Responses to “Resolution of weird bank problem--kind of scary”

  1. JanH Says:

    Yikes! I never thought about this!

  2. Thrifty Ray Says:

    Usually, account numbers have a check digit (the last number on the account) that is created by using a long formula so that the account number is not that easy to mix up. For example...let's say a bank is issuing accounts and the next account number is 123..

    that account number would actually be 1236, followed by the next account number 1249, 1251 and so on...

    If they dont issue account numbers using a check digit, then the account number should be matched with the (at least) first two letters of the last name....
    However, if by coincidence, the wrong account number provided is someone who has the same first couple of letters in the last name...it probably wont be caught until a customer discovers the error.

    However, for these reasons and many others..(human error at the top of the list!!).it is a REALLY GOOD idea to keep an eye on your account(s)..

  3. miclason Says:

    Here in ES you need to provide your full name, id #, tax id# and address where you receive your bank statements when making payments via phone...

  4. frugaltexan75 Says:

    I've had the opposite happen to me. A few years ago I noticed a $50 deposit in my checking account that I had no idea how it had gotten there. After calling my bank and asking about it, they realized that someone had made a deposit and reversed their account numbers - which caused their money to go into my account!


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