Take the 2-minute tour ×
Personal Finance & Money Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for people who want to be financially literate. It's 100% free, no registration required.

If somebody sends me money and I write the swift code wrong, will the money go somewhere else?

I know bank account numbers are unique within a bank, but will are they unique globally?

Update: I found a case titled Money withdrawn to wrong bank account and no response from Paypal (fortunately not my case)

share|improve this question

5 Answers 5

up vote 4 down vote accepted

Within the bank or group of banks owned by the same company the account number is unique.

What is unique is the bank id number and account number combination.

If the bank ID number doesn't match a banking institution, the transaction will not be completed. If you are unlucky and your mistake in writing the bank id number does match a bank, you have to hope the account number doesn't match.

The name's do not have to match. Checks have been deposited with incorrect spelling, nick names vs formal names. Mr. and Mrs ...

share|improve this answer
    
I sent money from the Netherlands to Qatar, but I put in the wrong swift code. How many days until I get my money back? –  user9240 Feb 7 '13 at 16:13
    
Welcome @Farhadi. We would love to help you. However if you have a new question, please ask your own new one. You could reference this question, but be sure to provide some background details. If you have any questions, me know. –  MrChrister Feb 7 '13 at 16:48

Account number are Unique based on the following combinations, based on manual banking practise of early days;
-Country
-Bank
-Branch
-Location
-Account Number
-Currency
-Account Type [Savings, Checking]
With the current computerization, there are quite a few items that have been coded into the number, for example Branch, Currency, Account Number and Account Type are part of account number.

Overall there are some attempts to standardize the account number so that they can be unique across the world as described as littleadv.

share|improve this answer

There are two unique identifiers for a bank account: SWIFT code + bank internal identifier, or IBAN code.

IBAN is mostly used within European banking system, and the whole code provides a direct and unique identification of the account.

SWIFT is an international network where each bank/bank branch has its own address, and account number is a metadata added to the message for the receiving bank to handle. Usually the name of the recipient and additional information are required when wiring money through the SWIFT network, to match the records and make sure there's no mistake.

Account numbers don't have to be unique, not even within the same bank. There's always something else in addition to uniquely identify them.

share|improve this answer

This is just my experience but I think I have to put in the account holder's name or last name to check that I'm sending it to who I think I'm sending to.

share|improve this answer
    
I know. But still I want to know if account number is unique. Bank often deposit anyway even though names don't match. –  Jim Thio Jun 15 '12 at 3:03

From personal experience, I can tell you that bank account numbers are not unique. Someone from another branch of my bank was able to withdraw money from my account at my branch because they had the same account number. You are supposed to enter your branch number on the withdrawal slip in front of your account number. The person who got my money did not do this. Because it was at my branch, the teller debited my account for the transaction. I caught this on my monthly statement and immediately complained to my branch manager. He was able to retrieve the withdrawal slip and saw what had happened. He credited my account and said he was going to talk to the teller who should have asked for the branch number and/or should have noticed that the name and address on the withdrawal slip did not match those on my account. I would not have thought that the bank would allow this situation considering how many numbers are available to assign but they did.

share|improve this answer
    
Really? It wasn't a typo by the person withdrawing? Or did the teller assume the branch number and type in that without reading it from the slip? I feel like the account numbers at a single bank must be unique, but your story brings that into question. –  MrChrister Oct 19 '12 at 3:29

protected by Community Mar 6 '13 at 12:16

Thank you for your interest in this question. Because it has attracted low-quality answers, posting an answer now requires 10 reputation on this site.

Would you like to answer one of these unanswered questions instead?

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.