the Irish for rights

Bank errors are not a licence to gamble

Ulster Bank Service Update

The above announcement currently appears on the Ulster Bank home page. It simply says that the bank is experiencing “some technical issues”, as a result of which some “account balances are not up to date” and some “services are unavailable”. When this happened to the Bank of Ireland the Christmas before last, it meant that some of its customers were able to make ATM withdrawals of amounts greater than their available funds or credit. I am not a customer of Ulster Bank. Nor do I know whether their “technical issues” are affecting their ATMs. However, if they are, then – as I said at the time of the Bank of Ireland error and earlier – making excess withdrawals in such circumstances is not a good idea. Those withdrawals will have to be repaid, either by virtue of the terms and conditions of the contract between the bank and the customer, or because of the legal duty to make restitution of mistaken payments received.

Worse, such withdrawals often amount to theft. A story in the Daily Edge stream of the TheJournal.ie today makes the point rather graphically:

Man gets $1.5m in ATM error … and then gambles it away

A DETROIT MAN faces 15 months in jail, and a court order to pay $1.5 million to his bank, after a glitch allowed him to withdraw unlimited cash from his bank account – which he then lost to his gambling habit. …

ABC News reports that once he became aware of this error, in August 2009, he withdrew $1,543,104 (€1.21 million) within 17 days – but sadly appears to have blown it all on a gambling habit. …

Bank errors are not a licence to gamble. Unfortunately, despite the Monopoly game Community Chest card, they are rarely in your favour. If and when they happen, your best bet is to contact the bank and inform them of the error – who knows, they might let you keep the interest.

4 Responses to “Bank errors are not a licence to gamble”

  1. […] Sadly for the recipients, the bank was perfectly entitled to rectify the error: as I have said on previous occasions on this blog, the recipients of the €222m would have had to pay the money back. See A bank error in your favour is not a gift from God; Santa, Scrooge, and overactive ATMs; Bank errors are not a licence to gamble. […]

  2. […] not a gift from God; an overactive atm is not santa, and the scrooge bank will have to be repaid; bank errors are not a licence to gamble; and keeping the proceeds of a bank error in your favour can amount to […]

  3. […] not a gift from God; an overactive ATM is not santa, and the scrooge bank will have to be repaid; bank errors are not a licence to gamble; and keeping the proceeds of a bank error in your favour can amount to theft, whether the error is […]

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Me in a hatHi there! Thanks for dropping by. I’m Eoin O’Dell, and this is my blog: Cearta.ie – the Irish for rights.

“Cearta” really is the Irish word for rights, so the title provides a good sense of the scope of this blog.

In general, I write here about private law, free speech, and cyber law; and, in particular, I write about Irish law and education policy.

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