Don’t Spend Money Accidentally Given to You by a Job or Bank – You’ll Regret It

When I was a college adjunct and academic adviser, almost 14 years ago, I had an unintentional but welcome financial windfall.

The payroll department had accidentally paid me twice my normal pay via direct deposit.

It was laughingly obvious to me with just half a glance at my bank account. I am a native New Yorker. New York City is a city with an astronomically high cost of living standard.

I was painfully aware of how much money I got per check, so even an extra penny would be instantaneously noticeable.

Why are these mistakes never noticeable to those making them? I am sure it’s hard to work in a profession where you must be exacting with numbers like in payroll, bookkeeping, or accounting.

Still, in a world where the average salary is barely $45,500 annually, or less than $900 weekly, it’s the epitome of unintentional cruelty to tempt an average salary worker with extra pay.

Anyway, as I stared at my double paycheck, it didn’t take long for me to decide to withdraw all of it from the ATM.

I had a meeting with payroll later on. Basically, I got a stern talking to. I was told that I should have known it was a mistake and that I shouldn’t have withdrawn the money.

Since I was paid biweekly, I ended up having to work a month for free to make up for the unintentional windfall.

I had to work two-weeks for free to make up for the extra paycheck I had withdrew. Then, I had to work two more weeks for my next paycheck.

The lesson here is that actions have consequences. Except, the consequences I paid were on a smaller scale compared to others in similar situations.

Felonious Theft

In May 2019, a Pennsylvania couple found out that their local bank accidentally deposited $120,000 into their joint account.

The couple bought cars, went on a shopping spree, and even gifted over $15,000 to friends.

By June 20, the bank contacted the couple and warned them that they had to repay $107,000, the amount by which their account was overdrawn by that time.

After two phone conversations, the couple ignored all contact attempts by the bank.

The couple were recently arrested for felony theft of bank funds.

Even though it was the bank which accidentally gave them the money, it was illegal for them to have touched a cent of it.

Don’t Do It

Listen, I have been there. Life is hard. Yet, there is no reason to make it worse for yourself.

If you ever find yourself the unintentional and unwitting recipient of extra money due to a payroll or bank mistake, don’t touch the money.

Contact payroll or the bank immediately. They are just going to contact you sooner or later.

Yes, it was someone else’s mistake. But abetting someone else’s mistake, or pretending consequences won’t apply to you afterwards, will only make an unfair situation possibly legally perilous later on.

For added perspective, consider Ruth Balloon.

Recently, Balloon found out that her bank had accidentally deposited $37 million into her bank account. She called the bank and made them aware of the error and the money was withdrawn.

If Balloon had touched a cent of that money, she would have likely faced arrest and imprisonment considering the amount.

Life is cruel and unfair. Still, we must try to rise above the adversity.

It’s easy to be tempted, but we are usually the authors of our own misery when it is unnecessary.

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