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#257382 - 31/05/2005 15:12 Bank Error In My Favor?
JeffS
carpal tunnel

Registered: 14/01/2002
Posts: 2858
Loc: Atlanta, GA
Ok, not really a bank error, but I'm not quite sure what to do. I checked my online statment and saw a charge from a hospital for a little over $500- I had no idea what it was and was pretty upset right up until I realized it was a CREDIT to my account. So after a few moments of thinking how nice it would be to have an extra $500, I did the "Right Thing"(tm) and called the hospital to try and figure out what happened (after all, it could be a bill that I paid twice on accident, so the money might legitimately be mine). The lady on the phone was not very helpful, however, and told me that I owed $24 that I needed to pay for. So I paid it, but she really couldn't give me any indication as to the source of the $500- though I think if it was money I owed she'd have put forth a lot more effort. She said to call the bank and that there was nothing she could do- it's really my problem now. Sheesh- It's "my problem" that someone gave me $500 and I don't know where it's from. Tough break that is!

So my next call is now to the bank to try and figure this business out, but man it would just be sooo easy to just drop it here and take the money, especially after this conversation I just had where the hospital itself didn't seem to care one way or the other. But I want to do the right thing . . .
_________________________
-Jeff
Rome did not create a great empire by having meetings; they did it by killing all those who opposed them.

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#257383 - 31/05/2005 17:27 Re: Bank Error In My Favor? [Re: JeffS]
bonzi
pooh-bah

Registered: 13/09/1999
Posts: 2401
Loc: Croatia
Well, I think you already did the right thing, and the bank probably won't have any idea what was that payment for, anyway. If you really want to be on the safe side legaly and consciencewise, you might want to write to hospital's billing department (using registered mail or something other traceable) asking for details of that reimbursment. Now, it they still just ignore you, there's nothing you can do (and if they remember after a year that you "have their money", you have a proof that you alerted them). After all, perhaps they did overcharge you in the first place.

Otherwise, bank errors in one's favor happen only in Monopoly
_________________________
Dragi "Bonzi" Raos Q#5196 MkII #080000376, 18GB green MkIIa #040103247, 60GB blue

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#257384 - 31/05/2005 18:07 Re: Bank Error In My Favor? [Re: bonzi]
blitz
addict

Registered: 20/11/2001
Posts: 455
Loc: Texas
You know what the right thing to do is. Give it back to the hospital. Make whatever effort is necessary. It is likely an error on the hospital's part for someone else's account who might really need the money. Honesty is good Karma.

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#257385 - 31/05/2005 18:07 Re: Bank Error In My Favor? [Re: bonzi]
JeffS
carpal tunnel

Registered: 14/01/2002
Posts: 2858
Loc: Atlanta, GA
Good idea about writing a letter. I talked to a lady at the bank and she basically said she had no idea (like I figured) and my best bet is to just put the money in savings and wait-and-see.

So that's the plan, along with writing a letter just so I'm covered.
_________________________
-Jeff
Rome did not create a great empire by having meetings; they did it by killing all those who opposed them.

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#257386 - 31/05/2005 18:42 Re: Bank Error In My Favor? [Re: JeffS]
DWallach
carpal tunnel

Registered: 30/04/2000
Posts: 3728
Before you donate the money too quickly... I've had various errors on my credit card and bank statement, usually in the other direction from you, but they usually figure it out and issue a correction at some point. Hospitals, in particular, have byzantine financial bureaucracies, mostly to deal with the morass of modern health insurance. They'll figure it all out, eventually.

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#257387 - 01/06/2005 22:57 Re: Bank Error In My Favor? [Re: JeffS]
tanstaafl.
carpal tunnel

Registered: 08/07/1999
Posts: 5402
Loc: Ajijic, Mexico
my best bet is to just put the money in savings and wait-and-see.


Jeff, I know you well enough by now to know that there is no way you would keep money that isn't yours; but there are limits to how far you are obligated to go to determine whose money it is. (Bank? Hospital? Insurance company? Some other patient?)

You are doing exactly the right thing by putting the money in savings and waiting. It is a near-certainty that somewhere along the line someone is going to miss that $500, and will devote the required effort to finding out where it went. At that point, you will be obligated to return it.

Meanwhile, just pretend it isn't there. There is probably some statutory period you must wait before you can claim the money as your own. Until then -- don't spend it!

It is perfectly understandable that the bookkeeper at the hospital was not helpful. There really wasn't anything she could do, short of calling every single patient in the system and asking them if they were missing $500. All she had was your name, not the name of the person missing the money. And, since her records showed no such $500 transaction on your account, the chances are very great that the error was not at the hospital, but at the bank, or possibly an error by an insurance company that paid the money into the wrong account.

tanstaafl.
_________________________
"There Ain't No Such Thing As A Free Lunch"

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#257388 - 01/06/2005 23:20 Re: Bank Error In My Favor? [Re: JeffS]
Jerz
addict

Registered: 13/07/2002
Posts: 634
Loc: Jesusland
Quote:
I talked to a lady at the bank and she basically said she had no idea (like I figured) and my best bet is to just put the money in savings and wait-and-see.



What I would watch out for though is if you move that money into savings and have a little over $500 in your checking (just enough for them to get their money back) they could suddenly reverse the charges leaving you little money in checking to cover any bills that you have written checks for and you could be hit up for all kinds of nsf charges.... So you may be penalized for moving that money into savings.

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#257389 - 02/06/2005 01:44 Re: Bank Error In My Favor? [Re: JeffS]
Ezekiel
pooh-bah

Registered: 25/08/2000
Posts: 2413
Loc: NH USA
This reminds me of this article/monologue by Patrick Combs who cashed a fake, newspaper printed advertising check for $95,000, which cleared. While in no way particularly helpful, and only very tangentially related to your scenario, it is a pretty damn funny read, so I had to share.

-Zeke
_________________________
WWFSMD?

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#257390 - 02/06/2005 10:09 Re: Bank Error In My Favor? [Re: tanstaafl.]
JeffS
carpal tunnel

Registered: 14/01/2002
Posts: 2858
Loc: Atlanta, GA
Yeah, we'll be trying to ignore the money and just expect the other shoe to drop. We'll also be going throuh our credit card statements to see if this WAS perhaps an overpayement (meaning the money really is ours)- if that were the case, though, then I assume the lady on the phone would have been able to tell me that.

Oh, and If they do automatically debit my bank account to try and fix the problem, I'll be ticked. Not because I don't want to give the money back, because of course I will, but because it would be wrong of them to debit my account without getting my permission first. People can't do that, can they?
_________________________
-Jeff
Rome did not create a great empire by having meetings; they did it by killing all those who opposed them.

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#257391 - 02/06/2005 11:36 Re: Bank Error In My Favor? [Re: JeffS]
Ezekiel
pooh-bah

Registered: 25/08/2000
Posts: 2413
Loc: NH USA
They can do exactly that, and they do not need your permission. I would leave the money in the account it arrived into.

-Zeke
_________________________
WWFSMD?

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#257392 - 02/06/2005 13:49 Re: Bank Error In My Favor? [Re: Ezekiel]
JeffS
carpal tunnel

Registered: 14/01/2002
Posts: 2858
Loc: Atlanta, GA
Quote:
They can do exactly that, and they do not need your permission.
Really? So someone can just access my bank account and take money out that they believe I owe them? In this case I would owe them the money, but you'd think they'd need some kind of permission from me before doing that. Certainly there are people I owe money to who don't just pull the money out of my account. But I really have no idea what I'm talking about- I appreciate the heads up. It's kind of a pain to leave it in my checking account, because then I have to mentally adjust for it when budgeting. Simple I know, but I'm really not good with money.


Edited by JeffS (02/06/2005 13:50)
_________________________
-Jeff
Rome did not create a great empire by having meetings; they did it by killing all those who opposed them.

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#257393 - 02/06/2005 13:55 Re: Bank Error In My Favor? [Re: JeffS]
visuvius
addict

Registered: 18/02/2002
Posts: 658
I don't think just anyone can pull funds out of your account, just the bank. I'm pretty sure they can do whatever they want (depsoit/withdraw) without telling you. Especially if they are correcting a mistake that they made, I doubt they would contact you first.

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#257394 - 02/06/2005 14:00 Re: Bank Error In My Favor? [Re: Ezekiel]
g_attrill
old hand

Registered: 14/04/2002
Posts: 1172
Loc: Hants, UK
Quote:
This reminds me of this article/monologue by Patrick Combs who cashed a fake, newspaper printed advertising check for $95,000, which cleared. While in no way particularly helpful, and only very tangentially related to your scenario, it is a pretty damn funny read, so I had to share.

Ah yes, I remember reading that *ages* ago. In fact I think he was part-way through the escapade at the time. I recall revisiting the story but have just re-read it and it was still a good read.

It's great to see he has turned it into a one-man show, I bet he has made the $95k back!

Gareth

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#257395 - 02/06/2005 14:03 Re: Bank Error In My Favor? [Re: visuvius]
g_attrill
old hand

Registered: 14/04/2002
Posts: 1172
Loc: Hants, UK
Quote:
I don't think just anyone can pull funds out of your account, just the bank. I'm pretty sure they can do whatever they want (depsoit/withdraw) without telling you. Especially if they are correcting a mistake that they made, I doubt they would contact you first.

I read that this happens quite often - and yes when the bank finds the problem they will just pull the funds straight out again, almost certainly leaving a record though.

The legal implications are basically the same in the UK - you must make reasonable effort to inform the bank of the mistake, but you can withdraw the funds and place them elsewhere in the mean-time, and keep the interest. I don't know who is liable for charges should the account go overdrawn when the money is removed again.

Gareth

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#257396 - 02/06/2005 14:03 Re: Bank Error In My Favor? [Re: visuvius]
JeffS
carpal tunnel

Registered: 14/01/2002
Posts: 2858
Loc: Atlanta, GA
Quote:
I don't think just anyone can pull funds out of your account, just the bank. I'm pretty sure they can do whatever they want (depsoit/withdraw) without telling you. Especially if they are correcting a mistake that they made, I doubt they would contact you first.
Ah, I get it. If the error really was the bank rather than the hospital- that makes total sense to me now. The hospital wouldn't be able to just do an automatic correction, though, right?

I did speak to the bank and they said it was definitely the hosptial, and not an error on the banks part.
_________________________
-Jeff
Rome did not create a great empire by having meetings; they did it by killing all those who opposed them.

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#257397 - 02/06/2005 20:57 Re: Bank Error In My Favor? [Re: JeffS]
Laura
pooh-bah

Registered: 16/06/2000
Posts: 1682
Loc: Metamora, IN
If they made a direct deposit into the account they can pull it right out without notification. I had an employer say that they over paid me and since I was signed up for an automatic deposit, they took the money though they weren't entitled to it. Caused me a nightmare of bounced checks and overdraft fees. Was a long time before I let another company do a direct deposit.
_________________________
Laura

MKI #017/90

whatever

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#257398 - 02/06/2005 21:35 Re: Bank Error In My Favor? [Re: Laura]
JeffS
carpal tunnel

Registered: 14/01/2002
Posts: 2858
Loc: Atlanta, GA
Quote:
If they made a direct deposit into the account they can pull it right out without notification.
OK, that's good to know. Of course, I never gave them access to my account in the first place . . .

In the end, I've set up my account so that my savings will transfer over to cover my checking, so it'll only cost me $5 or so if they do an automatic withdrawl. Better to keep it out out of site, out of mind than to accidently spend it!

And yes, the whole "cashing a fake check" episode linked above has run through my mind a couple of times.

Also, I just received a statement in the mail from the hospital verifying my pament of $24. Before I opened it I was all excited because I figured they'd explain what the mysterious deposite was. No dice (but man they mailed that letter fast!).
_________________________
-Jeff
Rome did not create a great empire by having meetings; they did it by killing all those who opposed them.

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