Oops! Did you make the wrong bank transfer? Here's what to do next to get your money back

Banking has undoubtedly transformed in the groundbreaking digital age, with financial transactions taking seconds to complete. However, alongside this convenience comes the vulnerability to human errors. A slip of a digit, an incorrect account number, or an identical name can sometimes result in a harrowing wrong bank transfer. This can be an unnerving experience, but panic and worry should not be your first responses. Instead, you should swiftly proceed towards a solution. Here’s what you must do next to get your money back in your bank account. 

You should instantly verify the transaction details, especially the recipient’s account number and transfer amount. You must immediately contact your bank’s customer service if the details seem incorrect. 

Adhil Shetty, CEO of BankBazaar.com, said, “In case the account number to which you have made the transfer does not exist, the transaction will be automatically reversed. In case of any delay, your bank can help speed up the process.”  

However, if the account number exists, then it is a different matter altogether. Shetty said, “If you make an error with the account number and the money is credited to the account of an unintended beneficiary (wrong recipient) with a different name from your intended beneficiary, approach your bank and prove to them that the beneficiary’s name is different. The bank will then contact the other account holder and request the amount to be returned as there is evidence of an erroneous transfer.” 

“Matters can get complicated if the money is credited to the account of an unintended beneficiary with the same name as your intended beneficiary. In this case, you will have to prove that the transfer itself was wrong before the bank can help,” added Shetty. 

Remember that most banks adhere to the “wrong recipient’s consent” policy in case of incorrect transfers. This means that your bank will contact the wrong recipient’s bank, who will then contact their customer seeking their consent to return the funds. If the other party agrees, the refund will be made. 

Shetty further explains, “The most important thing to understand is that if a transaction has been made, the bank cannot reverse it from its end without approval from the beneficiary. It can only act as a facilitator. Your bank can help by providing the contact details of the bank and branch of the unintended beneficiary and may even help you connect with the bank manager.” However, you may have to do the follow-ups, including requesting a reversal of the transaction and even requesting the unintended beneficiary to transfer the funds back to you.  

In cases where the wrong recipient is unresponsive or unwilling to return the funds, your bank generally reverts with a ‘recovery unsuccessful’ message. At this point, your next plausible step would be legal recourse. 

Shetty says, “There is a very little legal recourse available apart from sending a legal notice to the unintended beneficiary for the return of funds unless you have a written statement from the unintended beneficiary stating that they acknowledge the money was transferred to them erroneously and promise to return it.” 

The RBI has made it clear that the depositor is responsible for providing the correct account number and IFSC code. RBI guidelines state: “Responsibility to provide correct inputs in the payment instructions, particularly the beneficiary account number information, rests with the remitter/originator. While the beneficiary’s name shall be compulsorily mentioned in the instruction request and carried as part of the funds transfer message, reliance will be only on the account number to afford credit. This applies both for transaction requests at branches and those from the online/Internet delivery channel. The name field in the message formats will, however, be a parameter to be used by the destination bank based on risk perception and used for post-credit checking or otherwise.” 

Thus, while the wrong bank transfers can be stressful, quick and appropriate responses may limit the damage. Understanding the process, following it swiftly, keeping calm and double-checking in the future can prevent such financial mishaps from becoming nightmares. 

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