Bank errors are not an uncommon occurrence. When using financial services provided at a bank, a bank employee may accidentally make a mistake. So what happens if a bank teller makes a mistake?
What Does a Bank Teller Do?
A bank teller is typically the first point of contact for customers at a bank or credit union. Bank tellers perform various duties from the teller window, such as providing customer service and completing complex financial transactions.
These are some job requirements of being a bank teller:
- Receive deposits, loan payments, and bill payments.
- Cash checks.
- Sell cashier’s checks and traveler’s checks.
- Close and open accounts.
- Exchange foreign currency.
- Complete safe-deposit box procedures.
- Record and log transactions.
In addition, each teller has a cash drawer which must be counted before opening and again after the bank closes. Reconciling a cash drawer includes proving cash transactions and packaging currency and coins.
Bank tellers must actively work to prevent fraud and theft by following strict procedural guidelines set by the financial institution. For example, a bank teller must verify a customer’s identity and account number to complete an economic request.
Why Do Bank Tellers Make Mistakes?
We are only human, and mistakes are inevitable. Although it is rare for a bank employee to make a mistake that disrupts your finances, it’s possible that you may be an unlucky customer. Tellers spend most of their time staring at a computer screen and quickly attending people throughout the day. During a busy hour, a teller could accidentally add a significant amount of money to your bank account or provide the wrong withdrawal amount.
Freak accidents do occur as well, such as sleeping on the job. In Germany, a hardworking bank teller was sleep-deprived and accidentally transferred $293 million USD to the account of an unsuspecting retiree. This accident occurred because the bank teller slept on the keyboard and mistakenly pressed the keys.
If you notice a bank teller made a mistake, remain calm and approach the issue with a clear head. While it is understandable to be upset, remember that everyone is prone to errors, even bank employees. The good news is the bank can quickly resolve most issues.
Four Common Bank Teller Mistakes and Resolutions
There are various mistakes a bank teller can make. Double-check when you visit a financial institution and complete a financial transaction to ensure everything is accurate. Depending on the error made, you may share responsibility with a bank teller if you do not report the bank error.
Below are a few examples of bank tellers’ mistakes and resolutions.
Overpaying a Customer
There is a possibility that a bank teller may accidentally overpay you. It may be exciting when you notice an unexpected deposit in your bank account that should not be there. Many people are inclined to spend that free money. However, you cannot keep any unexpected money deposited into your account.
Financial institutions have a thorough auditing process to catch banking errors and ensure financial activities are legitimate. The bank will eventually catch the mistake and apprehend you about the extra money that is mistakenly deposited. You are legally required to repay the total amount accidentally added to your checking account.
You could face criminal charges if you cannot repay money mistakenly deposited into your account due to spending. Banks pursue legal action against customers that steal money to recoup lost funds and deter future customers from taking advantage of bank errors.
Underpaying a Customer
If you visit a bank and withdraw money, ensure you count your cash before leaving the bank. Every one is liable to make mistakes, even bank tellers. For example, you could accidentally get underpaid at a busy bank when you cash out a certified check. You may only notice you are a hundred dollars short by the time you arrive home. If this occurs, what can you do?
It is essential to contact your bank the moment you notice you are short-changed. Try to provide as much detail as possible to help speed up the investigation. A bank manager will ask you to provide the bank teller’s name or a description of their appearance, the date and time of the transaction, and the amount you are missing. Bank tellers count their drawers at the end of each business day. Suppose a branch manager discovers a cash drawer is over the expected amount. In that case, you will likely get a refund from the bank.
Sending Money to the Wrong Account
When you fill out a deposit slip at the bank, you likely ensure that the information is correct. However, a bank employee can accidentally send the money to the wrong account. A bank teller should verify the name and account number to prevent a bank error, but mistakes happen.
Suppose you think, “I need a payday loan immediately.” You may apply in person and receive a check which you deposit at your local branch. But when you check your bank account turns out your deposit never arrived!
If a bank teller accidentally deposited money into the wrong account, you may be able to get a refund. Just look for your deposit receipt. The receipt will display the deposit amount as well as the date and time of the transaction. You will likely get a refund when the bank discovers your bank balance does not display the deposit.
Most financial institutions provide overdraft protection to their customers. Overdraft protection prevents customers from paying bank fees, such as a non-sufficient funds fee, for spending more than they have in their checking account. If you make a purchase that is $50 more than you have in your available balance, overdraft protection saves you from paying fees.
It is entirely possible for a bank teller to overextend a customer’s overdraft protection accidentally. In 2009, a New Zealand resident requested a $100,000 overdraft limit. This new overdraft limit means he can spend $10,000 more than what he has available in the bank. However, a teller mistakenly increased the customer’s overdraft protection to $10 million.
The customer spent a majority of the money and fled the country. Eventually, he was caught by authorities and arrested. If you notice a bank teller has overextended your overdraft protection exponentially, inform bank authorities, and do not spend more than you can repay. Bank overdrafts serve as temporary financial nets, but you must pay back that money promptly.
If you use overdraft protection, your account can be in the negative. Maintaining a negative bank balance can have consequences including the account being closed, and trouble opening a new account in the future.
Whenever you visit a financial institution, it is a good idea to remember that accidents do occur. For this reason, you must keep track of your bank receipts and monitor your bank statements periodically. Also, keep in mind that specific financial actions may take time. For example, most banks will place a hold on your check deposit to ensure the check payer has sufficient money in their account.
If you check your account balance and discover more money than you should have, remember that you should not spend it. Spending that large deposit using your debit card may seem tempting, but you may face fines and criminal charges.