A woman in the U.K. has reportedly lost two years worth of her salary over a simple typo, and authorities aren’t hopeful she’ll be reclaiming it anytime soon.
Sally Donaldson (name changed for privacy reasons) says that at the end of every month, she would transfer the £1,000 (roughly $1,500) she makes as a hairdresser from her HSBC account to the joint account at Nationwide she shares with her husband. She entered the intended recipient, sort code and account number, and the transfer went through.
Unfortunately she had one digit in the account number wrong, and was sending her money to a complete stranger.
The U.K. Guardian has more from Donaldson:
“It wasn’t until October 2012 that I discovered the £1,000 was not showing on our joint account’s monthly statement. Having moved over to paperless statements in 2010, I had been checking that my wages were leaving my business account held with HSBC at the end of every month. However, to my horror, I now saw they had never arrived in our joint Nationwide account. Scrolling back, the last time my wage appeared on our statement was May 2010.
“I frantically checked my numbers for the bill payment scheme I had set up with HSBC and could see that, on setting it up, I was one digit out … the money has been going to another Nationwide account holder for the past two years, amounting to £26,650 [roughly $40,000]!
“The payment was set up clearly to my name, my sort code but with one account number digit being incorrect.
“Phone calls to Nationwide that night, many tears and numerous subsequent calls and letters, have left us with just £1,000 returned and a complete blank of information from Nationwide,” she says. [Emphasis added]
Donaldson says that her husband typically handles the bills, so she never she never really combed through the joint account statement. All she paid attention to was the end balance.
Making less than $50,000 combined, Donaldson added: “We live a simple life; we are quite frugal. We even went overdrawn on that account for a while and cut back as a result.”
By U.K. law, Donaldson has a legal claim to the funds and the bank can reportedly withdraw them for up to six years. However, the unidentified recipient has already withdrawn the money and is said to be broke, making the task much more difficult.
A Nationwide spokesman explained: “By law, a person is not entitled to rely on another’s mistake to keep money to which they were not entitled…The final payment transferred was recovered, but previous payments were no longer in the account. The recipient has been contacted and we have established she doesn’t have the funds to repay.”
Bottom line? Make sure you’re checking both ends of account transfers — don’t just make sure that it “went through.”
But if you do happen to make a large financial transfer to the wrong recipient, hope that someone like this recent graduate from Vermont gets it: