27 March 2017

Internet banking is part of our daily life, and sometimes it happens that you send money to the wrong person because of various reasons, such as mistyped bank account number or other error. If the wrong payment is done, it is good to know, how to find the “lucky guy” who possesses your money, and how to claim it back from him. In this article we shed light on this issue by showing that mistaken payment is not lost money.

Who can claim the money from whom?

The most common case is that you, as buyer transfer the purchase price to a wrong bank account. When this happens, it 

equals to not paying the purchase price to the seller, at all. This means that the seller is still entitled to request the money from you.

For example, if you buy something in a webshop, and make the payment by typing the bank account number of the seller simply incorrectly, it can claim the purchase price from you, and you should collect the mistaken payment from the “lucky” person who got your money.

However, transferring money to the wrong bank account does not always mean that you have to collect the mistaken payment.

If the bank account number was given wrongly by the seller, and you paid the money to that account, you fulfilled your obligation, and you don’t have to transfer the amount once more to the right bank account.

Taking a similar example to the previous one, if you ordered something from a whebshop, and the invoice sent by the shop contains wrong account number, you acted right, and the shop shall hand over the products. This time the money has to be collected by the shop.

Can the „lucky guy” keep the money?

The “lucky guy” should not be happy for a long time, because if he does not pay back the money, that leads to civil and criminal law consequences.

From a civil law viewpoint it is considered to be an unjust enrichment with the consequence that the “lucky guy” has to return the money because this financial advantage was acquired unlawfully. It is not worth to wait with repayment, because you, as the real owner of the money is entitled to interest on late payment.

According to criminal law any person who appropriates an alien thing received by mistake or accident, or fails to return it within eight days, is guilty of unlawful appropriation. If the amount does not exceed a certain amount (in Hungary it is HUF 50.000), it is considered to be misdemeanor.

How to find the lucky guy?

Maybe this is the hardest thing in this whole issue, especially in case of international payments.

In order to contact the holder of the “wrong” account, you should know his coordinates (name, address, etc.) at first.

In general, these data are considered as bank secret, but the Hungarian act on credit institutions and financial enterprises allows the banks to inform you about the data of the addressed person, so that you can contact him.

In order to receive such information from the bank, you have to substantiate your claim, by providing the necessary documents (payment certificate, etc.) and shortly explain the situation to the bank.

According to our experience, Hungarian banks are proactive in these cases, and they usually provide the information that allows you to pursue your claim.

Making a police complain can be also an alternative, because in case of a crime the bank shall be obliged to provide data to the police. Of course, this procedure takes more time.

What collection methods are available?

Once you know who possesses your money, and where he is located, after the first unsuccessful notice letter, attempting to request the repayment of the sum, you can choose from the following debt collection methods

  • in case the account holder is domiciled in Hungary, you can start payment warrant procedure or litigation in front of the competent Hungarian court;
  • in case the account holder is domiciled in the European Union, you can start a European payment warrant procedure in front of the Hungarian notary public;
  • in case the account holder is domiciled in the European Union or in another state, you can start legal proceedings in his home state.