Problems with paying cash into a bank account

23 posts in this topic

Posted

Greetings all,

I've searched the forums, and this topic doesn't appear to be covered, as it's probably unique to my own stupidity.

Prior to getting a German bank account, I had to pay rent into my roommates bank account over the counter at Deutsche Post, using cash, since the Berlin Sparkasse won't accept payment into an account held by one of their regional divisions. But they told me I could do it at Deutsche Post.

Deutsche Post require that you fill in a form with the recipients name, name of bank, konto and BLZ number.

Like an idiot, I wrote the wrong konto number. The money has not appeared in the correct bank account, and its whereabouts are unknown. It's been 6 weeks now, so it's not going to be a standard processing delay. My German is still very poor, so I wasn't able to understand the explanation from the Deutsche Post clerk.

If I wrote in an incorrect konto number, yet still one that exists, have I just given several hundred euros to a stranger? And if so, how do I go about getting it back?

Any information would be greatly appreciated.

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Posted

I did the same thing with a money transfer not long ago.

Yes, I gave the money to a stranger. The bank would not even look to see whose account it was or notify them. Luckily, it was an honest person who returned the money. Seems banks do not check account holders' names against account numbers when receiving money. Both were on my transfer form.

Can you take a German speaker with you to the bank?

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Posted

Thank you for the information, although it's probably not going to work out so well for me... I think a person would have noticed by now that they have some spare money and would have returned it if they were going to.

A friend has offered to come to the bank and explain the situation, but he won't be available to do so until Monday.

Thanks again.

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Posted

It took my honest person several days to notice. Everyone isn't checking their account daily.

Best of luck!

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Posted

A suggestion to avoid such problems in the future: instead of using the traditional German Kontonummer + BLZ, use the new European account format consisting of IBAN + BIC, which is by now available for all German bank accounts (the European numbering system works in parallel with the traditional German one).

IBAN numbers are longer, but they were designed to contain embedded check-sums (like credit card numbers). If you get one digit wrong, then the system will immediately notice that the number you entered is not a valid IBAN number. With traditional account numbers, if you change a digit, you probably get another guy's account number, not an invalid number.

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Posted

No matter how you payed something: Ask for a Quittung/Beleg (receipt) every time you do any transaction. It helps to track things down. Good luck receiving your money back!

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Posted

That's not really true. The IBAN number is a combination of the account number and the sort code, plus two letters and another 2 digits to identify the country and bank. So if you get a digit wrong, you could still end up paying into an incorrect account.

To me, this looks like no double-check was made between the account owner and account number. If you accidentally transfer a payment into a wrong account, you can usually ask your bank to reverse this action. However, I'm not sure if this is possible if you actually make a cash payment.

I would recommend going to the bank and speaking to someone there.

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Posted

To me, this looks like no double-check was made between the account owner and account number.

The banks don't check that anymore. It's up to the person doing the transfer to get it right.

If you accidentally transfer a payment into a wrong account, you can usually ask your bank to reverse this action

No, you can't. Reversing a bank transfer - myth or fact? Answer: only possible with recipient's permission

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Posted

That's not really true. The IBAN number is a combination of the account number and the sort code, plus two letters and another 2 digits to identify the country and bank. So if you get a digit wrong, you could still end up paying into an incorrect account.

It is. See here.

The IBAN validity check just takes the number, runs some math on it, and decides whether its mathematical structure corresponds to that of a valid IBAN number. If you get one IBAN digit wrong, it will always be caught by the validity check. Most, but not all, other types of entry errors will also cause the validity check to fail.

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Posted

How exactly did you plan on having proof that you ever paid rent?

You should have kept the receipt, and with that there would be a transaction number. Then the transaction can be traced and the bank can retrieve your money. I sometimes go weeks without checking my account , especially if I only use it to pay bills.

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Posted

A suggestion to avoid such problems in the future: instead of using the traditional German Kontonummer + BLZ, use the new European account format consisting of IBAN + BIC, which is by now available for all German bank accounts (the European numbering system works in parallel with the traditional German one).

IBAN numbers are longer, but they were designed to contain embedded check-sums (like credit card numbers). If you get one digit wrong, then the system will immediately notice that the number you entered is not a valid IBAN number. With traditional account numbers, if you change a digit, you probably get another guy's account number, not an invalid number.

WhatyoutalkinaboutWillis?

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Posted

You're right, they don't necessarily cross-check against the name. The advantage of IBAN over the Kontonummer is that if you input a digit incorrectly, you'll land on an invalid number and the transaction won't go through at all. Your money won't end up in someone else's account.

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Posted

Erm. I entered (left out) a digit incorrectly. It still went.

Seems there is no perfect system.

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Posted

You're right. Some systems are more forgiving of errors than others, but there's no perfect system.

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Posted

Thank you all for the information, although it would appear I'm screwed in this particular instance, if the person whose account I paid the money into chooses not to refund it.

I might just have to consider this a 300 euro mistake...

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Posted

Condolences. Really. I know the feeling.

Mine would have been a € 5000 mistake.

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Posted

You're right, they don't necessarily cross-check against the name. The advantage of IBAN over the Kontonummer is that if you input a digit incorrectly, you'll land on an invalid number and the transaction won't go through at all. Your money won't end up in someone else's account.

If you transpose or enter wrong digits, how is your method going to help?

If you make a manual or internet Überweisung and the BLZ or Konto are invalid the transfer will not go through. Same if using BIC+

IBAN.

On the other hand, even if the codes were not the intended ones but they are still valid (match an existing account) the transfer will go through of course - whether you use the BLZ+Konto or BIC+IBAN.

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Posted

Back to what I said earlier. Where is your damn receipt? What proof do you have that you even paid anything?

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Posted

If you transpose or enter wrong digits, how is your method going to help?

If you make a manual or internet Überweisung and the BLZ or Konto are invalid the transfer will not go through. Same if using BIC+

IBAN.

On the other hand, even if the codes were not the intended ones but they are still valid (match an existing account) the transfer will go through of course - whether you use the BLZ+Konto or BIC+IBAN.

Regular account numbers are quite short. If you change a digit, you're likely to hit another customer's account number.

IBAN numbers look like this: DE73 1007 0000 0001 1411 00

They are far longer and have a special mathematical structure. Only a small proportion of all numbers would meet this structure and be considered valid IBAN numbers. Among those, an even smaller fraction would be actual account numbers.

If you take the number above (which is valid) and change any single digit, you're guaranteed to get something that cannot possibly be another account number. You can try this online IBAN validator to see for yourself.

You'd need to change several digits in the IBAN number above to get to another valid number.

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Posted

I had money put in to my Bank of Scotland account. It wasn't mine and I queried it.

The bank insisted that it WAS mine, and the reason they couldn't trace where it came from was

because it was from their "holding accounts" (or some such) and it was really my money.

Only £124 but I was skint.

I spent it and heard no more of the matter.

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Posted

Regular account numbers are quite short. If you change a digit, you're likely to hit another customer's account number.

I understand the BIC+IBAN and have used it for transferring abroad before - on the Sparkasse system at least , you can't make an online tx using BIC+IBAN within Germany. Plus you rarely if ever get those codes on an invoice here.

The IBAN is just constructed from the same info that is available on bank systems as when you give in the BLZ and Konto Nr though. It's just got bank, country and account code and I always presumed that when they are running their nightly transactions, their systems must convert everything to that kind of format and do sanity checking anyway. If your submitted BLZ and Konto are not for a valid account then the money cannot be transferred and you get a notification letter and the money returned to your account when using a 'normal' Überweisung.

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Posted

I understand the BIC+IBAN and have used it for transferring abroad before - on the Sparkasse system at least , you can't make an online tx using BIC+IBAN within Germany. Plus you rarely if ever get those codes on an invoice here.

The IBAN is just constructed from the same info that is available on bank systems as when you give in the BLZ and Konto Nr though. It's just got bank, country and account code and I always presumed that when they are running their nightly transactions, their systems must convert everything to that kind of format and do sanity checking anyway. If your submitted BLZ and Konto are not for a valid account then the money cannot be transferred and you get a notification letter and the money returned to your account when using a 'normal' Überweisung.

  • You can use BIC+IBAN for all transactions within Europe, including domestic ones. It's just like with phone numbers: if you dial your next door neighbor's full phone number (with the +49 in front), the call will still go through and will cost the same as if you had omitted the country code and area code.
  • The IBAN does contain the country code, BLZ and Konto Nr, just as you mentioned. If you look at its length, though, it's longer than those 3 elements combined. That's because the IBAN number also contains check digits. Thanks to those, you have the properties that I mentioned (get one digit wrong, and the number you entered won't pass a basic mathematical validity test because the numbers, quite literally,won't add up).

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