ATM pays double: bank says keep the cash
Filed under: Your Rights
So what happened, and what are your rights when this sort of thing occurs?
Your guide to banking
Free moneyOn Friday 12 May, a new HSBC ATM in the village was giving away double the amount of money people were asking for. According to locals, the news of the mistake gradually spread, and a crowd began to gather of people keen to make the most of the mistake.
Your guide to banking
Many people were said to have been withdrawing the maximum on a number of cards, and one eye-witness even claimed there had been some pushing and shoving. However, after two hours the police arrived and the crowd cleared. The police even went as far as to tweet 'If you get a call that the ATM at HSBC in Milford-on-Sea is dishing out too much money - we are there already - Sorry folks!'
The bank held their hands up to having made a mistake, and said they would not be pursuing customers for the money back. A spokesman told the Mail on Sunday: "The machine was mis-dispensing and we won't be requesting the funds back. It is certainly not the liability of the customers."
So what are your rights?This is not as rare an occurrence as the banks would hope for. Last November an ATM in Hull started giving some customers too much cash and others less than they had requested. Equally in this case long queues soon formed of people trying to take advantage of the glitch. In this instance it was an ATM at a Lloyds TSB branch, and the bank confirmed it would not be chasing customers to pay the money back.
So it sounds like you are well within your rights to get stuck in if you stumble across a mis-dispensing ATM like this, with no fear.
However, it's not that straightforward. The law states that you are not breaking the law if you genuinely believe the money being dispensed to you is yours. However, in these instances, as the crowd gathers, clearly this isn't the case - they think they are getting something for nothing. In this case they should immediately hand the cash back, and if they don't, they are breaking the law.
In theory, as the banks have a record of every single transaction, they can pursue you for the cash to be returned, and can press charges. In reality this is highly expensive, and not worth it in most cases.
It then comes down to whether you are comfortable breaking the law like this. So what do you think? Let us know in the comments section.