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Consumer Rights.

Updated: 4 Mar 2021

How do I get money back that I’ve sent to the wrong bank account?

If you've accidentally transferred money to the wrong bank account there is a code of best practice your bank should follow when trying to recover your money.
Which?Editorial team
How do I get money back that I’ve sent to the wrong bank account?

1 Cite 'misdirected payments' code

There are now over 70 million faster payment bank transfers a month, 10 years ago the number of bank transfers was little more than 100 million for the whole year.

A code of best practice on ‘misdirected payments’ has been introduced, and it outlines how your bank should act in the unfortunate event that you send money to the wrong account.

It's the first time banks have agreed a common process to recover money transferred to the wrong account.

Although this is good news for bank customers, the new code doesn’t guarantee that you’ll always recover any money paid in error.

But you should know what’s happening quickly so you can take further action if you need to or get help if you wish to seek legal advice.

2 Let your bank know straight away

When you tell your bank or building society you've made a mistake and sent money to the wrong account, they should take action within two working days under the ‘misdirected payments’ code of best practice.

In most instances your bank should be able to recover the money for you, and this will be the end of the issue.

It’s worth bearing in mind that although money spent by recipients who can’t pay it back is untraceable, transfers to an invalid set of account details will bounce back.

Contact your bank as soon as you realise a mistake has been made. If your bank isn’t in the list below you should find their contact details on their website.

Bank contact details

BarclaysCall the Barclays Online Banking Helpdesk
From the UK:0345 600 2323
From outside the UK: +44 2476 842063
First directCall First direct customer service: 03 456 100 100
HalifaxYou can call Halifax online banking help
From the UK: 0345 602 0000.
From outside the UK: +44 113 279 8302
HSBCYou can call HSBC general enquiries number
From the UK: 03457 404 404
From outside the UK +44 1226 261 010
Lloyds bankYou can call Lloyds general enquiries
From the UK: 01733 347007 or 0845 3000 000
From outside the UK: +44 (0) 1702 278 270
NationwideYou can call Nationwide general enquiries
From the UK: 0800 30 20 11
From outside the UK: +44 1793 65 67 89
NatwestYou can call Natwest customer service
From the UK: 0345 788 844
From outside the UK: +44(0) 1534 620050
In emergencies (24hr): 01268 500 813
RBSCall the RBS help line
If you have an account in Scotland: 03457 242 424
If you have an account in England or Wales: 0345 9000400

3 Can’t get your money immediately

If your bank can't reclaim funds straight away – for instance, if the recipient disputes its return – the bank will investigate and you should be told the outcome within 15 business days.

If funds can't be recovered, you should be given clear and accurate information by your bank on the options available to you, which may include taking court action against the recipient.

4 If your bank lets you down

If you don't get the service you'd expect under this code of best practice you should first follow your bank's formal complaints procedure.

Failing a satisfactory outcome, you can take your complaint to the Financial Ombudsman Service.


Top tips to avoid misdirected payments

To be sure you don't make a mistake when sending a payment, follow these simple rules:

  • Always double-check the sort code and account number. This is the information your bank uses to address your payment.
  • Check the amount and payment reference, especially if you're paying a business or a bill.
  • Send a much smaller amount initially. If you are sending a larger amount of money check with the intended recipient that they’ve received the smaller amount first. Then you can send the rest.

If you receive money in your account which could have been sent in error, contact your bank straight away.