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We live in the United States but retain a bank account in the UK since we used to live there.

Back in November we transferred a couple of thousand dollars from a checking account in the USA to a similar one in UK using Xoom. The money deposited ok. A few weeks later we looked at our British bank account only to see that the money was deposited a second time. No extra money was taken from our American bank account, so it was literally just a double deposit of the same money several weeks apart.

We immediately contacted Xoom's customer support and when they finally understood what the issue was they said they would look into it and contact us when it was resolved.

A couple of days later we got an email from them saying the following:

"Thank you so much for contacting us. We reviewed your transaction xxxxxxxx and can confirm the funds were paid out to the designated recipient. This closes our investigation, but we will be happy to review your recipient’s bank statement with you to help locate the deposit if needed."

The money remains sitting in our British bank account. What do we do? Since we have contacted them and they have apparently given us written evidence that they haven't found a problem can we keep the money (which of course is very, very tempting), or should we contact them again? I have no idea what to do.

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The "them" that you contacted and who said everything is OK from their end is Xoom and this suggests that the issue might be at the British bank end; someone punched a button twice or something. So, contact your British bank and explain to them that you transferred a certain amount into your account via Xoom and this was credited twice instead of just once; that you have contacted Xoom and they confirm that sent the money only once. Let the British bank take it from there. Even if they come back and say everything is OK at their end, leave the money there; they may realize their mistake when the year-end audit occurs and the books are found to be out of balance.

  • Yup, if the bank doesn't immediately reverse the transaction when you inform them, put the money in a decent yield investment account (that's easy access) and leave it. You might get asked about it in due course, in which case you have the money available. – Moo Feb 3 at 0:15
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    I strongly disagree with @Moo's suggestion that the money should be put into a "decent yield investment account (that's easy access) and leave it". If and when the British bank discovers its error, it will remove the money from the checking account at one fell swoop without necessarily informing the account holder, leaving the account holder liable for any low-balance fees (monthly charges are waived if the account holder maintains a specified minimum balance) or worse yet, overdraft and bounced check fees that might be payable if the account holder has moved the money elsewhere. – Dilip Sarwate Feb 3 at 14:04
  • Meh, that means keeping a boatload of money in an unprotected, general fund account for the long term - that doesn't sound like a brilliant idea. The point is, once you've given the bank the opportunity to rectify the problem by informing them of it, and they have immediately failed to rectify it upon being informed, then you have a case to be made good should they do any of what you suggest. The ombudsman would definitely rule in your favour here regarding fees and charges. Don't spend the money, but have it available at reasonable notice for returning to the bank when required. – Moo Feb 3 at 20:55
  • Only thing I would add to this is to make sure both Xoom and the bank are told in writing about the situation. – DJClayworth Feb 4 at 0:13
  • @Moo A couple of thousand dollars is hardly a "boat of money" unless the OP is desperately poor, an unlikely possibility given that he is a US resident with enough wherewithal to send $2K to his British bank account – Dilip Sarwate Feb 4 at 0:40
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Interesting situation.

Don't spend the money. It's theirs. They might figure out at any time in the future that it is theirs, and then you need to pay it back. So don't spend it.

So what happens then? There is the "statute of limitations", which means that after enough time, they lose the right to ask for their money back. I think that time is six years in the UK, but to know the exact time, you'd need to ask a lawyer. But anyway, you can leave the money there for long enough, and it is yours.

It may be that someone made a mistake, realises that if the mistake is found out and fixed they are in trouble, and rather covers up the mistake than admitting the mistake.

(Didn't think about the error happening at the receiving bank, your bank transmitted the money once so they see everything is fine, but the receiving bank added it to your account twice. In that case they may or may not ask the sending bank for the money - or remove the second payment from your account. )

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    I would suggest contacting them again. The wording in the response from Xoom makes it seem like they understood it to be a complaint that the money was not deposited at all. – Eric Feb 3 at 17:19

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