Have you ever made a bank transfer and immediately wished to reverse the transaction? This could be due to crediting a wrong account, being defrauded, or some other reason. Note that this is completely different from a transaction where you are debited but the beneficiary does not receive the fund.
Earlier in the year, Nairametrics Founder, Ugodre tweeted about sending money to an account number in Bank A (we do not want to name the bank) only for the money to be transferred to another customer with the same identical number in Bank B.
This was quite shocking as the CBN operated NUBAN account numbers are meant to be unique to each customer and no two customers can have the same account number. However, following the tweet we now understand some customers do have the same account numbers but different banks. As such, the banking apps can mistakenly populate the wrong beneficiary and bank and if you do not cross-check before transferring, the money could be sent to the wrong beneficiary
Well, here’s how you can get your money back.
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Time is of the essence
The first thing you must do is reach your bank. How fast you do this largely determines the success of the rest of the process. If you can reach the recipient’s bank immediately, this might also work in your favour.
Banks now have official e-mail addresses, WhatsApp lines and Phone lines you can immediately call to have issues addressed. Recent surveys have however shown that some banks only send auto-responders to messages, and handle complaints much later. Since time is of the essence here, you might need to resort to calling them or getting to a physical branch (if you can).
Before contacting the bank by either of these means, make sure to have all details written out: your account name and number, recipient’s account name and number, amount involved, date and time of transaction, and the reason you want to recall the funds.
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You have to be as explicit as possible in stating the reason for recalling the funds. If you mistakenly transferred into a wrong account, you made a transfer under duress, or you have been defrauded, state it clearly.
As soon as this is done, your bank immediately gets the recipient’s bank to place a hold on the amount cited in the transaction. What this implies is that if the recipient has N30,000 in his account, and the amount under dispute is N10,000, the bank places a hold on N10,000 but allows him to withdraw other funds.
You need to move as quickly as possible, because the recipient could go on a spending spree upon receiving the alert of an unexpected “windfall.” However, if the money is already withdrawn, and the account is longer funded to the amount under contention, a hold will be placed on whatever amount is left, pending the resolution.
Whether the account is funded or not, the recipient gets invited to the bank to resolve the issue. Here, two things could happen.
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The account holder could show up and authorise a reversal of the wrongful credit, as an upstanding citizen. On the other hand, they could choose to abandon the account.
Hopefully, with all things being equal, wrongly transferred funds should be reversed within 2 days. However, sometimes it could take longer, even running into months, due to various reasons.
Now, the bank does not just go ahead to reverse the sum to your account simply because you claim to have been defrauded. If this is were the case, some persons could mischievously try to recall funds used as payment for legitimate services or products.
In resolving the complaint, the recipient has to verify your claim that the funds don’t belong to them. Like most banks state, consent from the recipient has to be given to reverse the amount in dispute, unless it is an outright fraud case.
If the recipient insists that it’s a valid transfer and refuses to give consent, the bank could maintain the hold on their account, making it impossible to spend the money. The problem, however, is that your money remains stuck in the account till the day they walk into the bank to authorise the reversal.
In some cases, the bank may advise you to take the case to court and secure an injunction to get back the money, or compel the recipient to show up.
If it is a case of fraud, you might need to involve relevant law enforcement agencies. Also, the account is then added to the watchlist for subsequent transactions, or completely closed, depending on the gravity of the allegation.
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Note: Whenever making a transfer, be sure to double-check account name, number and bank to avoid sending the money to someone else with similar details. Also, avoid divulging personal details to fraudsters so that they don’t gain access to your account to carry out unauthorised transfers.
It is always safer to err on the side of caution. You may not be lucky to get a refund.