What Happens if I Accidentally Wire Money to the Wrong Account?

by Jeannine Mancini
You can make a wire transfer from anywhere as long as you have a computer.

If you notice you entered the wrong account number for a wire transfer in the processing or pending stage, you may be able to stop the transfer or make the necessary changes. If the bank account number or routing number is entered incorrectly, the transaction will likely be rejected. In a case where the number you provided matches someone's else's bank account, the receiving bank may reject the transaction. However, if money is wired to the wrong account and not rejected, you can encounter problems.

Reversing the Transfer

Although this is uncommon, wire transfers may be deposited into the wrong account. Once the money is in the person's account, it cannot be accessed by your bank or the receiving bank. Wire transfers cannot be reversed. Wire transfer companies and banks typically address the customer's liability for entering incorrect account information. Unless the bank made the error, there is little that the transferring agency will do to retrieve your money.

Wire Transfer Company Policies

Western Union urges customers wiring money to make sure the account number and other information is correct before sending. According to Western Union's terms and conditions, if the account number is incorrect, money may be credited to the wrong account and not able to be recovered. Xoom guarantees that the money you wire will be deposited into the account that matches the bank details you provide. It warns customers that some receiving banks will not check to verify that the name on the account matches the account number. Other banks refuse to accept funds unless the name listed on the transfer matches the account holder's name exactly.

Bank Wire Transfer Policies

Some wire transfers to accounts within the same bank are immediate. According to Bank of America, once a wire transfer is completed, it cannot be reversed. HSBC banks states that you agree the bank may rely on the account number you provide. The bank is not obligated to confirm that the name listed on the account matches the name you provided in the wire transfer instructions. As part of the terms of use, you agree that you are responsible for entering the account and routing number correctly. Wells Fargo indicates in its bank-to-bank service agreement that it is not liable for inaccuracies or misinformation you provide.

Options for Recovery

Although you may not be able to reverse the wire transfer, the recipient does not have a right to keep the money. The bank can track down the account holder and may contact him on your behalf and request he return the funds. However, if the account holder cannot be reached and the funds are no longer available, you may not be able to recover the money. You may have to contact an attorney to discuss options, such as personal lawsuit to retrieve your money.

About the Author

Jeannine Mancini, a Florida native, has been writing business and personal finance articles since 2003. Her articles have been published in the Florida Today and Orlando Sentinel. She earned a Bachelor of Science in Interdisciplinary Studies from the University of Central Florida.

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