I hold an account with a bank abroad and wanted to transfer all the money I held there into my HSBC account. I was told that I needed an IBAN and BIC to transfer the money and so I went to the closest branch and got it. I gave it to my bank abroad and was told it would take up to 5 working days for the payment to come through.

It's now 2 weeks later and the payment still hasn't arrived, so I thought maybe they wrote down the IBAN wrong, and turns out I was right. HSBC screwed up the last digit of my IBAN, meaning that my bank abroad used the wrong IBAN. Now I dont know what to do, is my money lost even through no fault of my own?

I still have the sheet that the clerk at HSBC wrote down the IBAN on in case they ask for proof.

I don't know what the best course of action is, should I contact my bank abroad first and tell them of the error or do I contact HSBC and tell them what they've done?

  • money.stackexchange.com/questions/47959/… Your money is safe – base64 Sep 3 '15 at 11:31
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    If it hasn't arrived at the destination account or re-appeared in the source account after two weeks, I think it's sensible to be worried about it and try to do something active. – Ganesh Sittampalam Sep 3 '15 at 11:48
  • Ok international transfers take time, considering the legal implications because of extra checks, so you might get your refusal a bit late. And as HSBC is in the limelight for money laundering so they are being extra diligent, probably. – DumbCoder Sep 3 '15 at 13:54
  • See the sad tale of Susan Madakor, for the other side of the "wrong IBAN" error – DJohnM Sep 3 '15 at 14:48

There's something wrong with your story. The IBAN contiains two check digits, and the method used to compute them guarantees that any single digit error will be caught. So it's impossible that "HSBC screwed up the last digit of my IBAN" because if that were the case, the resulting IBAN would not be valid and be rejected by the computer when it was entered at your bank.

  • As in the clerk that I spoke to wrote it down incorrectly, not that they themselves had it wrong on the system. The bank abroad that I am transferring from has a single branch in the UK and that is where I went to sort this out. The person I dealt with at this bank gave me a receipt-type thing with evidence of him sending a fax to someone who I assume is a supervisor to deal with the transaction, meaning that he himself didn't put the IBAN into the system. So yes, ultimately the IBAN must've been rejected but I haven't been contacted by my bank yet so I thought I had reason to worry. – alex31734 Sep 3 '15 at 23:18

You should do both:

  • Contact the bank abroad and tell them the payment may have been misdirected and ask what they can do to trace or recall the payment.

  • Contact HSBC, show them the sheet with the incorrect details, and ask them to help you fix the problem.

International payments are generally hard to trace and fix so it's important to get things going from both ends as soon as possible.

Make sure you keep the sheet or a copy of it so you have evidence you can use later if it comes to a dispute with HSBC. Keep any other documentation or letters you get from them.

Also, if you're not already doing it, start keeping notes of what's happening as it happens so you have a contemporaneous record of events - those are generally much more convincing to other people than anything that was constructed from memory a long time after the event.

  • Generally for individuals in international payments the receiver bank can't help individuals. The query has to come from sender bank. – Dheer Sep 3 '15 at 12:13
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    @Dheer maybe they can't do too much immediately, but they should be at least put on notice that they might be held responsible for the problem. Given that they might have some incentive to do more than usual :-) – Ganesh Sittampalam Sep 3 '15 at 12:16

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