Unauthorised and mistaken transactions

Mistakes on your bank account

If there is an error on your bank account, the sooner you report it to the bank, the more likely you will get your money back. Here we explain what to do if you make a mistake transferring money from your bank account or if you are worried someone else is using your account without your consent.

How do unauthorised or mistaken bank transactions happen?

An unauthorised transaction happens when someone else has access and uses your bank account without your knowledge or consent.

A mistaken transaction can happen when you pay the wrong person or company by:

  • incorrectly typing the BSB or account number
  • putting in the wrong information because the person you are paying has provided the wrong number
  • you select the wrong payee.

ASIC figures from a 3-month period in 2015 show that 83% of mistaken transactions are because people incorrectly entered the bank account details of the person they were transferring money to.

How does the ePayments Code protect you?

The ePayments Code is a code of practice that virtually all banks, building societies, credit unions and even some payment services have signed up to. It protects you when using electronic payments, including when you:

  • Withdraw money from an ATM
  • Buy goods or services on EFTPOS or credit cards (though not when you authorise the purchase using manual signature)
  • Do telephone or internet banking
  • Use your credit card over the phone or internet
  • Use mobile phone payment services

You can find out more about the ePayments Code on the ASIC website.

Can you get your money back if there's a mistake on your bank account?

In most cases, you are entitled to a refund if there is an unauthorised or mistaken transaction on your account. However, there are some instances where you may not be able to get your money back.

When you will get your money back for a mistaken payment

You are likely to get your money back if you put in the wrong BSB or account number, or chose the wrong payee, if you contact your account institution within 10 business days and the money is still in the recipient's account. Your account institution must also be satisfied that the mistaken is genuine.

It will be a slower process if you report the problem after 10 business days, but you should still get your money back if the money is still in the recipient's account.

If it is more than 7 months, and the money is still in the recipient's account, then the recipient has to consent to the return of your funds before you can get your money back.

When you will get your money back for an unauthorised transaction

You are likely to get your money back if:

  • a forged, expired, faulty or cancelled PIN/password or card was used
  • there was fraudulent conduct by employees of your account institution or merchant
  • the transaction took place before you received your card or PIN/password
  • a merchant incorrectly debited your account more than once
  • the transaction took place after you told your account institution that your card was lost or stolen or that someone else may know your PIN or password
  • it's clear that you haven't contributed to the loss

When you may not get your money back for an unauthorised transaction

There is less chance of getting your money back from an unauthorised transaction if you:

  • acted fraudulently
  • didn't keep your PIN or password secret
  • unreasonably delayed telling your account institution that your card was lost or stolen or that someone else may know your PIN or code
  • accidentally left your card in an ATM

Even in these circumstances the amount you are liable for is subject to certain caps.

How to report a mistake on your bank account

Before you report an unauthorised or mistaken transaction you should check if your bank, credit union, building society or payment service provider has signed up to the ePayments Code. You can check on this ePayments Code subscribers' list.

Smart tip

When you report a mistake or unauthorised transaction on your account make sure you get a reference number to verify that you made the report.

If your bank, credit union, building society or payment service provider is a subscriber to the Code they must have processes in place to get your money back in the circumstances outlined above. If they are not a subscriber, you can still raise your concerns with them. You can also ask them to become a member of the Code.

To report a mistake or unauthorised transaction on your account, call your financial institution as soon as possible and let them know.

In the case of an unauthorised transaction, you need to do this quickly to fix up the problem and prevent any more unauthorised transactions.

It is worth closely checking your account statements every month for any wrong transactions and reporting them to your service provider as soon as possible.


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Last updated: 20 Jun 2017