How many times have you received “free” money in your account, knowing it was someone else’s mistake? Raise your hand. (Higher – I can’t see them! Haha…). Okay, now how many of you went ahead and SPENT this money thinking you were being sneaky and could get away with it? Anybody? Anybody? Would you tell me even if you did? ;)
Either way, the only money in your account that is truly YOURS is whatever YOU’VE put into it or earned. If someone else, or another company, accidentally xfered money in for whatever reason – it is legally NOT yours. I don’t know how much trouble (legally) you could get into, esp if you play the “I didn’t know” card, but either way I could tell you it would be a pretty stupid risk to take. Eventually, 99% of the times at least, it always comes back and they figure out whatever mistake it was they made. And when they go to pull back all that money, you better hope it’s still in there!!
The best way to avoid it all is to CALL YOUR BANK right away and get them working on it so it doesn’t turn into a mess down the road. You always hear stories about how people got all this free money and went out and blew it on cars or houses or whatever, and then 6 months or a year later they’re all of a sudden in a pile of debt. As if they thought no one would notice $300 grand missing somewhere?! It’s not even worth *thinking* about spending the money – however small or large it is. Money that is NOT yours cannot magically become yours no matter how you spin it, so don’t even take the risk.
The reason I bring this all up is cuz the Mrs. just saw a sexy new $1,500 credit hit her account randomly and had no idea what it was for. So she dug a little deeper (wasting a good hour, while in the middle of studying for some huge exams coming up) and realized her University had thought she had overpaid her health insurance, and was thus crediting back her “2nd payment.” She quickly told them that it was a mistake, and that she had only paid it ONCE, and 40 mins later it was all cleared up and finally resolved. At which they thanked her profusely as it saved them a few weeks, if not months, of headache trying to track their mistake when the numbers wouldn’t have balanced.
I mention all the time it took her to figure it out and bring it to their attention because even though it’s the *right* thing to do, it can still be annoying as hell ;) Especially when you’re in the middle of something so important. But when it all comes down to it, it’s much better to be proactive about it and get it straightened out SOONER than later so it doesn’t turn into something bigger than it ever needed to be. Eventually everyone finds out when they’ve misplaced money, so you might as well just bring it to their attention and be done with it. That money was never yours to begin with, and will never turn into yours unless something crazy happens and you’re that .001% odds that get away with it. But could you even be comfortable with that, anyways?
Actually, that’s a great question for y’all: How many of you would be fine w/ receiving money knowing it shouldn’t be yours? And how many of you would return it before even being asked? I’d be interested to hear your thoughts on it. Especially if this has happened to any of you recently! I promise not to judge, okay? :)
(Photo by istolethetv)