Please, Citibank, Stop Sending Us Random Amounts Of Money!

Readers M & C are honest people, so when Citibank started randomly depositing money that clearly wasn’t theirs into their account, they called to tell them about it. And Citibank took the money back. And deposited it again. And then sent them a check. M & C say that they’ve begged, they’ve pleaded Citibank to stop sending them random checks — but nothing has worked.

Here’s M’s letter:

This is a strange one. Citibank keeps trying to foist hundreds of dollars on my wife. And not in a good Robert Redford-Demi Moore sort of way.

This was her go-to credit card for a while, since before we met. Around the time of our wedding last year, she charged a couple hundred bucks worth of gifts on what was an otherwise zero-balance card. She went to pay it off a few weeks later, but, lo and behold, it said *they* owed *us* a couple hundred bucks, after some magnificent benefactor credited our account with $600. High times in Fat City, right?

Well, being the mensch my wife is, she called Citibank and told them that somehow their Intertubes were crossed. They transferred her to the fraud department, which promised they’d look into it. Sure enough, a month or two later, we got a letter saying, “We’re on to you, suckers, and we’re taking our money back. Nice try, though.” (I’m paraphrasing.) They debited our account and we went back to the drudgery and monotony of our lives.

Of course, Citibank, being the warm-hearted blokes we all know them to be, never uncrossed their Intertubes and kept wiring money into my wife’s otherwise unused account. A few hundred bucks here, a few hundred there (always in even increments), eventually we had a balance over $1,000 in our favor. It was like the Hannukah miracle, except on a credit card.

So, sure enough, my wife calls back. Sure enough, she’s transferred to the fraud department. Sure enough, they promise to look into it, and sure enough they eventually take their money back. And, this being consumerist, sure enough, they start depositing money into her account again. Always a couple hundred bucks, every few weeks.

What to do? “That’s all well and good, we thought I mean, we don’t use the card, so we figured we could live to ignore it and let them deal with it. “Ha ha,” we’d say to our friends. “That crazy Citibank! Always trying to give us money. What will they think of next?”

Only as of today, they’ve started sending us CHECKS. Just today, I went down to our mailbox and found a fat, juicy check for $600, that said it represents the balance in our account. I mean, it’s like they’re SCREAMING at us: “TAKE OUR MONEY! YOU LOOK LIKE LOVELY PEOPLE! WE DON’T WANT IT!”

Only I can just as loudly hear, like, 800 Consumerist commenters tut-tutting, “You can’t spend it. It’s not your money. You are NOT lovely people; you’re obviously scammers of some sort and you have this coming.”

So the question is, what the hell do we do now? We’ve asked them, PLEADED with them to stop sending us money that doesn’t belong to us. They’re not listening. What now? How do we make them listen? What do we do with this check?

Save us, Consumerist; you’re our only hope!

-M+C

Well, you clearly are not scammers. If you are, you are the worst scammers in the history of scams and you should go back to scam school and take scam 101.

We’re going to be honest with you here and say we have no idea what you should do, other than you should not spend the money. This is what we have learned from several years of summarizing those “Bank makes $100,000 mistake, man spends it, and has life ruined” stories that show up every few months. Once the bank realizes what they are doing, they will want their money back.

If we were you, we’d start by writing an EECB to Citibank. Perhaps you can attract the attention of someone who realizes that, while, as a bank, they are supposed to loan money, it is supposed to be a bit more organized than this. Send them a detailed account of everything that has happened, and tell them to cut it out. (Keep a copy of this letter for your records, too.) It sounds like the “fraud” department might not be equipped to handle this sort of problem.

For more information about launching an EECB, click here. Here’s some executive customer service contact info for Citibank.

Anyone out there have any advice for M & C?

(Photo: cmorran123 )

Comments

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  1. SkokieGuy says:

    What about writing a letter and outlining the problem and indicate that after your many attempts to rectify THEIR error, if you do not receive a response and correction in 60 days, you will accept their lack of reply as authorization to keep the money AND any future monies received. Send registerd, oh and maybe use gray 6 point type for the letter.

    This is the exact same tactic the credit card companies use. You get a notice of term changes in tiny print and if you don’t object within 30 days, your lack of objection is considered acceptance.

    • Hobz says:

      @SkokieGuy: In all honesty I don’t know how the bank could fight something like that in court. You have the documented proof, the judge would simply turn to the bank and say “You had your chances…”.

      Always consult your attorney before taking anyone’s advice.

    • snoop-blog says:

      @SkokieGuy: Genius!

    • SigmundTheSeaMonster says:

      @SkokieGuy: Awesome idea! Deposit the checks into an account you can use for good, too. Like draw the interest off to some charity.

    • nicemarmot617 says:

      @SkokieGuy: Right, except judges usually side with the companies. If these poor people so much as touch this money they’ll be screwed. I mean, they SHOULD be able to spend it as they see fit, if Citibank is really this stupid. Nonetheless, I think a judge will ignore all their documentation.

      • dorianh49 says:

        @nicemarmot617: Exactly. Unfortunately, the country/world is run by Big Business, not Lil’ Consumer. A judge will almost always find in favor of a big company in cases like this.

        • dorianh49 says:

          @dorianh49: And, most likely, credit card issues are tied to mandatory binding arbitration. Ain’t happening.

          • absentmindedjwc says:

            @dorianh49:

            well… included in the document can be legal speak for the same thing.
            “Any pursuit of said assets after the 60 day grace period will be sent to mandatory binding arbitration chosen by the private party. The company chosen will be bobs arbitration and liquor, the owner of which is a great personal friend of mine. By sending money, you agree to the terms laid out in this contract.” (hey, thats how cell contracts work… why not?)

            • Corbin123 says:

              @absentmindedjwc:

              Take the money, put it into an account, and then charge them for financial services. That should get their attention. I wonder if there is a statute of limitations on this kind of thing. You know, keep the money 10 years and it’s yours.

    • shorty63136 says:

      @SkokieGuy: Dammit, I like the way you think!!!

      I should hope a judge would side with them.

      But I definitely believe a letter escalated to someone higher up than the “fraud” department is in order.

    • Ein2015 says:

      @SkokieGuy: Somebody should double-check with a lawyer to see if that could work…

    • Skipweasel says:

      @SkokieGuy: I’d certainly be charging them the same amount for a letter that they charge you. I don’t know how much it is in the US, but in the UK banks repeatedly screw customers for £30 letters.

    • JuantheGardener says:

      @SkokieGuy: Yeah, I also think it’s a brilliant idea. However, if by some distant miracle you were actually able to keep that money, you would of course have to pay federal and probably state taxes since you would have to report it as income. So in that case be sure to set aside a portion of it for tax purposes

    • Peter Gibbons says:

      @SkokieGuy:

      I love the idea, but you can’t form a contract without an action by the other party — in other words, you can’t say the bank “agreed” to give you the money just because it didn’t do anything. You’d have to get it to do something in response to the letter to make the contract arguably binding. I don’t think something like “if you send me a bill next month, I get to keep the money” works either, since citi would have sent a bill no matter what.

  2. akacrash says:

    Ok, so they can’t spend the money, but what about cashing the checks and putting it in a high(ish) interest online account, like Ing. Just leave it there until they come calling, and then give it back. In the meantime, get 3.5% return on it.

  3. TheFuzz53 says:

    Forget that. Just open up a completely separate savings account and deposit them there and collect the interest. You tried your best to point out their incompetence, and sometimes the only way people will learn to take their lumps.

    • moore850 says:

      @TheFuzz53: Yep, and then when they ask for it back, just give back the principal and say, “stop sending me checks”. That’s all you’re legally obligated to do — after all, you’re not the one asking them for the money in the first place, and they obviously can’t prove that or they wouldn’t keep sending you the money.

  4. brendon says:

    I’m not an attorney, or an accountant, but could they deposit the money in the account, as it comes in and when Citi wants it back give it to them then. At least this way, they could get some interest, no?

  5. Notsewfast says:

    Love the title, very rarely do headlines make me laugh.

    Well done Meg.

  6. snoop-blog says:

    Some of my favorite lines:

    “We’re on to you, suckers, and we’re taking our money back. Nice try, though.” (I’m paraphrasing.)

    It was like the Hannukah miracle, except on a credit card.

  7. Spin359 says:

    Here is my advice. Cash the Check. They will notice there mistake and immediately want that money back and stop all this nonsense. DO NOT spend the money, as they really will want it back. Put it in a savings account and make 2 bucks interest or something on it, just do not spend it.

  8. Anonymous says:

    See the plot of Donald Westlake’s Money for Nothing (2003)

    A great set-up for a serious caper, something of a more ingenious revival of the “nephew” plot. The hero has been for years receiving, and cashing, checks from (it seems) an untraceable government agency, with no idea why he’s getting them. Then one day a man approaches him and tells him that his checks were a retainer: he’s a “sleeper” spy and now he’s being activated.

  9. DeltaTee says:

    Ask them to convert the checks to some sort of merchandise so that is falls under the USPS Rules for Unsolicited Merchandise. It may fall under that category anyway. (Check with your local postmaster.)

    • nidolke says:

      @DeltaTee: I’d call in a free sample from Citibank. Like this money? Bank with us and we’ll give you MORE. Cash that shit.

    • Corbin123 says:

      @DeltaTee: Yeah, I get how if a bank puts $100,000 into your account you should probably be on notice that the money isn’t yours, but mailing a check to you? What if a random guy mailed you a check or cash, you spent it, and then they wanted their money back 5 years later. They would most likely be out of luck. I don’t see why the outcome would change just because it is a company that is mailing you the check.

  10. liesandslander says:

    Agreed on the above, put it into something that will give you interest. probably dont tell the bank this though, if their doing something this stupid, i wouldnt be suprised it they turned around and said”you used our money for something, since its our money, its our interest.

    if your concerned about fraud, dont touch the checks

  11. humphrmi says:

    My guess is that someone is making electronic payments on their credit card, and either put in the wrong account number or Citibank is putting it in the wrong account. That person is probably, at this moment, typing up an e-mail to Consumerist along the lines of “no matter how hard I try, Citibank will not fix this problem…”

    Of course don’t spend the money, but I think you already know that. In the olden days you could go into a branch (if there were any in your state) and get a human to sit down and work out the problem. But today the job of Citibank branch personnel is to refer any fact-to-face inquiries to their customer service phone number.

    [shrug]Dunno. Escalate. EECB. Write letters. Ultimately, you can always close the account.

  12. Ghede says:

    Honest people have it tough in todays automated world. Someone probably set up automatic deposits, but somebody missed a digit or two. So nothing looks wrong from their end, it matches the records.

    However, the check thing is probably a massive blunder. I betcha the person who requested the deposits noticed they weren’t getting their cash, so they requested checks to be mailed to them instead. Then they checked mailing info from the deposit account.

    All guesswork really, but I’ll keep on believing it until somebody who actually has worked in a modern bank disproves it.

    • Nytmare says:

      @Ghede: No I think the checks are Citi’s own initiative, because the card account is running with a positive balance. The second party is probably wondering they their own deposits aren’t making their balance go down, but they wouldn’t be expecting cash back either.

  13. tc4b says:

    The checks that arrived in the mail… I think (lawyers correct me) that those belong to you since they were sent usps. Could be wrong.

    Cash the checks and donate them to a pediatric leukemia charity. That way, when they ask for it back, there can be a consumerist headline saying: “Citibank Hates Kids with Cancer!”

  14. pixiegirl1 says:

    Am I the only one who is confused as to why they would send their call to the fraud department? It sounds like whoever they were talking too doesn’t know too much so they just passed it on to another department to deal with. The “were on to you” letter doesn’t make any scene either. I say spend the check if they are that incompetent it’s there loss and they should have to eat that loss.

    • brainswarm says:

      @pixiegirl1: You should NEVER spend money that comes to you this way. When they finally figure out their mistake, they will try to recover the money, and if it isn’t returned immediately, lawyers will be involved. I’ve seen several stories like this where the bank gets nasty, and some of them have even resulted in jail time.

    • carlogesualdo says:

      @pixiegirl1:

      You aren’t the only one confused why this would be a “fraud” issue. This sounds like a billing issue. Fraud would be if someone was spending money on her account, not making payments on it. But I do agree with someone else’s comment that it looks like someone else is making regular payments on their own account and it’s getting posted to this person’s account. I agree EECB seems the way to go at this point. I wouldn’t touch this money with a 10 foot pole. This is the kind of money that eventually comes back to bite.

  15. crazyasianman says:

    earning a little interest on that money, however minimal does seem to be a decent way of going about things until they fix the problem. or should I say if they fix the problem…

  16. TheRedSeven says:

    Here’s your options:
    1) Keep doing what you’re doing until Citibank gets their act together. Pros: None. Cons: They may never get their act together and you’ll have to put up with this forever.

    2) Send an EECB. Pros: Maybe they’ll fix the problem. Cons: Maybe they won’t.

    3) Close the credit card down. Pros: No more worries, problem solved. Cons: May hurt your credit rating/credit score by shortening your credit history. (Do you ever use the card? If not, it may be listed as inactive anyway, so it might not matter…)

    4) Take the money, put it in a separate savings account, earn 2%. Pros: You benefit from their mistake without worrying about them coming for money you’ve already spent. Cons: This may not solve the underlying problem of them sending you money in error.

    5) Spend the money. Pros: You get stuff. Cons: They WILL come for their money, and you’ll be SOL with the “but I tried to give it back” excuse in court.

    There’s no perfect solution. Take your pick with what you got.

    • aphexbr says:

      @TheRedSeven: I’d be thinking options 2 and 3 myself…

      I’m no expert on this kind of thing, but I’ve seen stories where the consumer gets screwed over through some argument of “bad faith” or whatever.

      Best thing to do: EECB first of all. Not only would this (hopefully) get some attention but it could alert CitiBank managers to some flaw in their system that the drones aren’t interested in as well as helping others (surely, there’s somebody, somewhere missing some deposits?).

      If that doesn’t work, close the account. Maybe it will affect credit short term, but do you really want your credit with an organisation who not only makes this kind of mistake, but won’t even address it when an honest member of the public notifies them? How effective do you think they’ll be if you’re the victim of some actual fraud?

      I would say do not in any circumstances touch the money. If your asking them to take the money back ends up with the fraud department, what will happen if they think you’re actually stealing it? Not worth the risk for an extra $10 of interest IMHO.

  17. coan_net says:

    Take the money

    Put it in an account that will gain interest

    if & when they want their money back – give it back (but keep the interest)

  18. Mollyg says:

    My advice is to do nothing. Cashing the check could be interpreted as check fraud. Put the checks into a file. You did twice your duty and informed them about their mistake. The last thing you want to do is anything that would or could be twisted against you.

    • MrEvil says:

      @Mollyg: If the check is a legitimate check made out to them that isn’t counterfeit. I don’t see how this could be considered check fraud.

      I’m pretty sure check fraud involves knowingly passing or cashing a fake/false instrument.

      I’d definitely consult with a lawyer over this. If they can document their efforts to get Citi to STOP all this nonsense I don’t know how a judge could pass any kind of criminal of civil punishment.

    • Difdi says:

      @Mollyg: Cashing a check you know or suspect to be bad is fraud. But that’s not the case with the OP — Citi is sending him absolutely valid checks.

      There was a case a few years back where a company was mailing out “sample” checks that regardless of the company’s intent, met every single legal criteria for a valid check. One guy who got one deposited it as a joke, honestly expecting the bank to reject it, as if he’d deposited an envelope full on Monopoly money. It cleared. By the time the bank got around to realizing the check was fake, it was too late for them to take the money back legally. The guy eventually did return it, but he didn’t have to — And while the bank did threaten to prosecute him, he was not, by the letter of the law, guilty of fraud, since he lacked intent to defraud at the time he deposited the check.

  19. smonkey says:

    you can do the same interest trick w/ the credit card. Use the card as you normally would. Since the balance is taken care of with their credit, put the same amount as the balance in with the rest of the ‘savings’ and get more interest on it. If they want it back cash out and treat youself to a nice dinner out.

  20. tande04 says:

    I 2nd or 3rd (Or 5th or 10th) the put it in a seperate account and get some interest off it. Thats exactly what they would do.

  21. EyeHeartPie says:

    Maybe the bank is outsourcing its deposits. Isn’t this how a bank works? Just, you know, with roles reversed…

    Someone (in this case Citibank) gives money to an entity (readers M & C) for safekeeping. Since the credit card balance is like a checking account, just reinvest like the bank does :redistribute into a savings account and keep the interest when the bank comes to withdraw their money.

    • AldisCabango says:

      You could invest the money in a mutual fund or stocks (where they will be safe and secure), then when Citibank realized their errors you coudl give them there money back and have a nice tidy profit to keep for yourself.

  22. iambeaker says:

    Interesting story… Ironic thing is… I am with Citibank, and every so often they take 100, 200, or as much as 1000 out in random intervals…

    Just joking

  23. rit says:

    I’m going to go with the assumption, as mentioned in earlier comments, that someone is writing the wrong account number on a deposit. At the LEAST, the deposits are probably tied to the checking account #.

    Any way to get citibank to close the account and open a new one w/ diff numbers?

  24. HFC says:

    Instead of telling them they did something wrong, tell them YOU did something wrong. Tell them you seem to have an old automatic payment set up that you want to stop and you can’t figure out where it was set up. See if they can cancel it all together or get whatever information you can about the payments, then track it down.

  25. aftercancer says:

    Next time you need to contact them give them my address. Seriously open a high yield saving account, you should be able to get 2-3% yield. When they ask for the money back you’ll have it but it looks like it might take them a while to notice their mistake. Even though you keep telling them about it.

  26. Cocotte says:

    I’m worrying about the poor sod trying to pay off his credit card and never having the money show up in his account.

  27. gladiatory2k says:

    You know, at least you are honest, but it makes me wonder howmany accounts out there are having the same thing happen to them.

    There’s the way you can bailout the nations banks, get them to stop depositing checks into people’s accounts.

  28. Anonymous says:

    They know exactly what their doing? They want you to cash the checks or use your card so they can charge you interest. I would just cancel the account.

  29. AD8BC says:

    This happened to me a few years ago with my Verizon Wireless account. I noticed one month that my $50-ish payment was not auto-debited from my checking account. I checked my account online and found that I had a CREDIT balance of about $200. Some very large payment (not mine) was credited to my account. I figured that they would catch it soon enough so I forgot about it. Happened again the next month and so I called. They were fairly certain that it was my money. But they would check. They didn’t find anything. It happens again for two more months, each time they tell me that it was my payment. By the time I had a credit balance of $1000, then I got fed up and called again. They said that it was my money. So I asked for it in writing and I asked for a check.

    That got their attention.

    A few days later I got an email from them telling me that incorrect payments had been made to my account, and that they would be removed, the money due them would be deducted from my checking account, and that I SHOULD HAVE CONTACTED THEM ABOUT THE WHOLE SITUATION AS SOON AS I NOTICED IT.

    That got MY attention. I didn’t like that.

    So I called, got a supervisor, told them that I had tried to fix this for months. I offered chat transcripts and emails. And you know what they did?

    They met me halfway.

    They removed the incorrect amounts from my account but they also credited me for a number of months of free service for my inconvenience.

  30. floraposte says:

    I wonder if the OP’s attorney general/state’s attorney’s office can advise him on his obligations in the situation, especially on something like the retention of interest aspect.

  31. mannyv says:

    What’s odd about this is that Citibank is leaking, and they don’t know it.

    If this post didn’t get Citibank’s attention, try sending mails with the words “There are unauthorized transactions happening on my account.” That might get you to a different guy, or at least may make it less likely to be in the ‘fraud’ mindset.

    The problem, from Citibank’s point of view, is simple: weird activity like this may be a symptom of a bigger problem…like someone’s breached their system and is siphoning money out of the bank.

    This, for obvious reasons, would be pretty bad. Remember, Citibank was just hit with that ATM breach a while back, so that may have gone a bit farther than anyone realized.

    Or, it could be that someone just put the wrong account number into their autopay. The reason that’s unlikely is the numbers are round numbers (no change).

  32. frodo_35 says:

    I am a Nigerian prince and that is my money they are mistakenly taking from my account. Please western union all the cash back to me as it comes in as I need the money for more email writers. lol :)

  33. Xerloq says:

    Whoa, this is getting posted at the end of the comments, but hopefully someone will see this down here.

    This happened to me with Wells Fargo – except they handled it better. I got a check for $1587.23 deposited to my account. I called, and was advised by the CSR to go to a branch.

    I told the branch manager I had received an unexpected deposit. He advised me to leave it alone until they sorted it out, and that it might take 60 days or so to investigate. If everything checked out, they’d let me know and I could keep it. If not, they’d withdraw it.

    32 days later, I got a call from WF. Turns out someone had transposed some digits while depositing their Social Security checks and they withdrew the money. The bank had to wait until the depositor raised a complaint before they could do anything. Once they did, it was sorted out in a hurry.

    The bank did give me a $10 “customer appreciation” refund for my inconvenience.

    On another note, if you’re that concerned, you can contact the police or FBI. Tell them you’ve been receiving a large number of unexpected deposits and you suspect foul-play. This could be some weird variation on a 419 scam. Close the card and don’t cash the balance checks the bank sends you. Try going into your branch and asking for help.

  34. West Coast Secessionist says:

    Yeah. Just close the account. You’ll get a final check for “your” “credit balance.” Just file it with the rest of the papers from that account and keep the packet for when they figure out their error in a few years and come calling you. You’ll be able to prove you never took any of the money.

    There are plenty of credit cards out there, why deal with this headache waiting to happen.

  35. STrRedWolf says:

    EECB. If that doesn’t work, close the account, open a new one with a different bank, and inform the overseeing regulator for that bank over the problems. You may have to lawyer up.

  36. speedracer2787 says:

    You tried valiantly. Take the money, deposit it in a CD. Continue to do so with any new checks. Give it back to them when they realize their mistake. Hopefully sometime in 2040.

  37. sabrinad says:

    Take ‘em to small claims court! Ask the court to award you the cash. That way, either they’ll figure out something is up and fix the problem, or the money will be yours free and clear when they don’t show up in court and the case is decided in your favor by default. (Risk is that they fix the problem and then you’re out the filing fees, but that should be like thirty bucks and surely that’s cheaper than dealing with this nonsense for another few years until Citi figures out how to do math.)

  38. zigziggityzoo says:

    In Michigan, if a bank errors one way or the other, and it isn’t rectified within 12 months, then whichever party benefits from the error has no obligation to rectify it.

    Three years ago, my bank was $300 off (in my favor) on an all-cash deposit (the teller counted it 3 times, wrong all 3 times). They never traced it back to me and I got to keep the money. WIN.

  39. jdhuck says:

    I guess the author failed to mention that he works as a programmer for Citibank.
    It’s just like Superman3/Office Space.

    Just slide the check under the door of your local branch.

  40. GreatWhiteNorth says:

    Hey folks let’s not forget the service charges she should be charging the bank for their mistakes…

    Check cashing fee $32
    Money parking fee $10 (weekly to park it with you)
    Notification fee $50 (to let them know you have it)
    Money transfer fee 10% (when they want it back)
    Talk to a real person $25 (when they want to talk about it)

    You get the idea… hey it may just be easier to use the bank’s own schedule of fees as a basis… Don’t forget to hit them with overdraft if they take to much money out.

  41. FrugalFreak says:

    My guess is Citi is trying to make some cash with this “give them money/they use money/charge overdraft fees” when we take it back.

  42. shaman66 says:

    I agree with TheFuzz..

    Open a savings account *at another bank*. Deposit the checks they insist on sending you and earn interest. When the time comes to refund the money, refund it and keep the interest.

    I suggest you open an account at another bank, since they will likely take any interest you accumulated @ Citibank, for their time and trouble in collecting funds you so evilly socially engineered out of them.

    Good luck

  43. msbask says:

    I wouldn’t cash those checks. I would just hold on to them and when Citibank comes looking for their money, just send the checks right back.

    • shaman66 says:

      @msbask:

      Why? Why not earn some interest (however small) as reimbursement? Hell, Citi is likely to charge them interest on the money for the “free loan”..

      We’re talking about a faceless corp here that would grind your mother’s bones into dust and make Tequila Sunrises out of it, if it made them a buck..

  44. AMetamorphosis says:

    1. Accept the money.

    2. Donate it to a charity ( keep records )

    3. Call local news media when and if Citibank ever realises their error.

    Citibank will look like the schmucks they are and you will have helped giant corporate America with charity.

    Your karma is clean on this one :-)

  45. mike says:

    This OP is completely full of WIN!!

    Citibank really doesn’t have much of an excuse here. At a certain point, it seems like they are saying its your money. It’s like a debt collector: they keep telling you that you owe money.

    Except, they keep giving you money. Maybe you won a nigerian lottery.

  46. Anonymous says:

    Have your lawyer deposit the check (and any subsequent payments) into an interest bearing escrow account. Have he/she determine any civil/statutory obligations you may have to repay and if they expire over a certain period of time. Upon reaching said expiration period, seek disbursement of funds from the escrow account while having your attorney document everything.

  47. Ezra Ekman says:

    I am not a lawyer, and would recommend you contact one before making a final decision on what to do. Your local bar association can usually recommend an attorney who will at least hear your situation out (and potentially make some suggestions on what to do) for free or a greatly reduced rate. That said…

    I would suggest, as several others here have, to simply open another savings account with Citibank and transfer/deposit any related funds into that account. Then send a notarized letter via certified mail to Citibank notifying them of the problem, and informing them that they have 30 days to correct it or you will be keeping the funds permanently (which you will consider a settlement for their failure to adhere to their own policies) in another Citibank account (include the new account number), and their lack of curing the problem within 30 days will constitute “acceptance” of the agreement you are sending them. I would also include some verbiage that makes it clear that, since you are not on retainer as a consultant, it is not your responsibility to help them solve their own repeated errors. This will accomplish several goals:

    1. You can stop worrying about it. You’ve notified them, above and beyond what a customer could reasonably be expected to do.

    2. It will allow you to earn a small, but not nonexistent, rate of return on their mistake.

    3. You have proof (via notarization and certified mail) that you a] did everything you could to inform them of the problem and b] made it explicitly clear that if they did not stop, you would be “charging” them an amount equal to whatever they send/deposit.

    At the absolute WORST, you’ll gain nothing, and can stop worrying about it. However, you’ll have to remain vigilant towards your accounts to ensure that you always transfer/deposit the money they send into the right account, and don’t spend it. They can’t come after you for fraud or theft, as you’ve notified them in the most obvious way possible that it is their mistake, and that you have given them time to solve it. I can’t see a court finding you guilty of theft if your money remains deposited within the same financial institution that is sending it to you… though as I mentioned earlier, I’m not an attorney and there may well be something I’m ignorant of.

    Best-case scenario, you’ve got a free retirement account that’s earning interest. I can see possible situations in which Citibank were to do something rash like deduct the funds from your account, which could lead to snowballing overdrafts or something, but that is when you refer to your multiple contacts and certified letter in which you notified them of the problem, even to the point of telling them what the account number was. If they then do anything to cause checks to bounce, payments to be rejected or fees to be assessed, it is clearly THEIR error and THEIR responsibility.

    Be smart, but don’t waste too much of your own time. Inform them of the problem, give them a month to resolve it, then stop thinking about it. Problem solved. :-)

  48. pecan 3.14159265 says:

    Okay, I’m seeing a lot of advice on depositing the funds and acruing interest…isn’t the act of depositing an acknowledgment that this is your money? And if it is, in fact, NOT your money, doesn’t that hold you accountable or theft and/or fraud?

    It just seems to me that it’s very obvious this is NOT their money. Doing anything aside from holding onto it just to show Citi their mistake IS a mistake. Don’t treat it as your own, don’t deposit it anywhere, and don’t spend it.

  49. ThinkerTDM says:

    Hey, I am all for sticking it to The Man- but sometimes The Man sticks it back.

  50. katylostherart says:

    well if it’s a credit card get a new one issued? maybe the number change will stop the stupidity.

    also i like eyeheartpie’s idea.

  51. mariospants says:

    Well, if I were being sneaky, I wouldn’t touch the money, but I would continue to let it happen and allow it to pay off my balance on the credit card every month. After a few months, cancel the card and move on.

    Seeing how shitty their accounting system is, even if they tried going after you for the money, you account was closed in good standing and they cannot pursue for it further.

  52. dlab says:

    This happened to my girlfriend – BOA put $900 in her account that weren’t hers. Then, they refused to take it back, but told her that she would be pursued to the full extent of the law if she spent the money.

    She ended up having it in her account (which she stopped using and only left the $900 in) for four months.

  53. Parting says:

    I’d put in into saving account, until they ask for it back.

    And keep interest. Even 2$, will pay for a coffee ;)

  54. magicaliam says:

    I’m quoting AD8BC….. “I had a credit balance of $1000, then I got fed up and called again. They said that it was my money. So I asked for it in writing and I asked for a check. That got their attention. A few days later I got an email from them telling me that incorrect payments had been made to my account, and that they would be removed, the money due them would be deducted from my checking account, and that I SHOULD HAVE CONTACTED THEM ABOUT THE WHOLE SITUATION AS SOON AS I NOTICED IT….. That got MY attention. I didn’t like that. So I called, got a supervisor, told them that I had tried to fix this for months. I offered chat transcripts and emails. And you know what they did?
    They met me halfway.They removed the incorrect amounts from my account but they also credited me for a number of months of free service for my inconvenience.”….

    I would have done the same – asked for a supervisor and then their supervisor – and mainly to have them put it in writing! Of course, you received a check – but did you get anything in writing saying it was yours to spend?
    I would copy the CEO and any one else I could find from a Stockholder’s report….look on line and keep copies.
    (This out sourcing of customer service is driving all this,is my opinion – ball get’s dropped countless times – training is lacking – Everything is going haywire as Corp. Executives pat themselves on the back and get out of touch with what’s going on in reality inside their companies.) It’s just figures/numbers on paper – And key is Looking good! As a stock holder in several companies, I may be vocally present at a few Annual meetings this year – maybe it’s a place to start – we do own a share of the companies we invest in – don’t we?
    Gotta tell you I smiled with the humerous style of your writing! Give me a follow up please!

  55. magicaliam says:

    I love this : On another note, if you’re that concerned, you can contact the police or FBI. Tell them you’ve been receiving a large number of unexpected deposits and you suspect foul-play. This could be some weird variation on a 419 scam. Close the card and don’t cash the balance checks the bank sends you. Try going into your branch and asking for help.
    This should get you somewhere – kinda doubt it’s a terrorist or scam going on – but WHO KNOW? It’s your duty to report it – and FBI may take you seriously or know how to contact the right person to fix!!!

  56. mac-phisto says:

    i would NOT cash the check & go thru the regular rigamarole w/ the fraud department. THEN i would request that the account be closed & a new card issued on a new account.

    i think i would also request some form of compensation for your time. is this a rewards card? if so, maybe a bunch of points. if not, maybe a toaster or waffle iron or whatever they give new account holders these days.

    after all, you have been doing their job for them…compensation is in order.

  57. skpatel73 says:

    You could always void the check and mail it back to them. Keep copies, though. As long as you haven’t cashed the check, then no money has moved from their accounts into yours, and so you’ve got no liability.

  58. PølάrβǽЯ says:

    As Meg said, eventually, the bank will want their money back. Until then, stick it all in a nice, interest-bearing account. Then when they finally pull their greedy head out of the generous ass they accidentally stuck it in, you can give back the money and keep the interest! YAY!

  59. usul356 says:

    this reminds me of an old song, the Credit Card Song by Dick Feller

    [www.themadmusicarchive.com]

  60. chrisfromnl says:

    Just in case:

    [revision3.com]

  61. hhole says:

    I hear that Iceland is offering some EXCELLENT interest rates right now.

  62. mzs says:

    I had something similar happen. In the end I needed to get a lawyer to make it stop and they agreed to pay the lawyer.

    For two years I kept calling and having them take the money back. Like clock work six months later around $5K credit would reappear. I never touched the money. Nothing ever went to court or anything like that, it just seems that when the lawyer wrote a letter that finally caused someone to look into it enough to make it finally stop. I never did learn why it was happening.

    I talked to the lawyer (the same real estate lawyer I had used for a few things before) and he agreed to send a letter free of charge. If it worked he would ask them for $300 in a settlement. In the end he got closer to $200 and he was fine with that.

  63. Anonymous says:

    I work at a bank and have seen something like this before. It happens when someone sets up automatic payments with their local bank and send $xx.xx at a determined interval. They mistaking have an incorrect account number on the payment and it happens to be a valid account belonging to this peson. It may take a while beofre the other person realizes the error but the bank will evently find out from the real owner and come looking for the money.

  64. Jesse in Japan says:

    Normally, I would suggest putting the money into an interest-earning account, but, seriously, how much interest are you going to earn on 600 dollars in the few months before Citibank realizes their error? In this kind of situation, I would go to the actual bank branch that issued the check instead of trying to talk to the “fraud department” on the phone and explain and talk to somebody in person.

  65. Michael A. B. says:

    If you attempt to return the money repeatedly and they don’t accept it, I would check into the regulations for unclaimed (escheated) property in your state. Thenk you can, legally, turn the property over to the state and it can be theirs to worry about. The best part is, in some states, if the money is not claimed in several years, it may revert back to you.

    I work for an insurance company and we have to do that all the time with correct payments that get sent back due to invalid addresses or checks that never get cashed. It can be a pain, because you also have to send notices, including adds in the paper, but it does get it out of your hands in a legally protected manner.

  66. Anonymous says:

    Request they change your account number as they do in the event of unauthorized card usage and your issue will disappear. Most likely the error is caused by an individual that is trying to pay their own credit card bill, and is accidentally paying yours. It is possible Citi would have no idea who the actual account owner is if they pay cash at a branch. The checks they are sending are for overpayments. Not the worst problem to have, the person making the payments is likely many months late on their bill now!

  67. Carias says:

    Well I used to work for the devil, otherwise known as Capital one so I know a few things about what’s going on that might shed some light.
    1. Any account with “suspicious activity” gets flagged and automatically forwarded to fraud or the CYA (cover your ass) department. Suspicious activity is anything out of your normal spending habits and in this case the fact that they aren’t using the account but are recieving funds is suspicious and therefore flagged.
    2. In most cases when an account carries a credit for 2 billing cycles a cheque is supposed to be automatically directed to the address on the account as refund for the credit amount.

    What I would do to rectify this is call and report your card lost. NOT stolen because they can ask for a police report for that. Reporting it lost will freeze the account and issue a new card number solving your end of this hassle.

  68. Anonymous says:

    Why make a little interest? Make as much as you can by investing their money in your own business! This is what the City would do, isn’t it? And make sure you send them certified letters as soon as you receive the checks so they won’t have a case to request any interest since your letters – is up to them to correct ther mistake and collect their money. Enjoy it!

  69. Kero says:

    There is one and only one option, close the stupid account.

    Anything else, i.e. calling them repeatedly, moving the money around, etc. is, at the least futile and at most the appearance of attempted fraud.

    Don’t put the consumer on the defensive and the credit card company (who has a legal team with nothing better to do) on the offensive, it’s not worth the few bucks they might make on their error.

  70. jinnrice says:

    i actually had this happen. and this happened when i was 18 fresh and young…going to college….keep it short. total i got about $30,000.00 and some change. crazy huh. im 26 now and this ended just ended back in 2006…or closing to 2007.
    it happen like M+C…i opened a credit card with 500 limit for college(american express blue i think) bought a few things paid it off ..then the money started to come in…same thing i called Credit company few times they took it they gave it back they took it they gave it back….etc. for about a year or so…then i just gave up on them..then they started to send me checks..so i contacted my(friend) lawyer…he said simply keep your records and phone calls and what not..cash the money and put it in a safe at a bank somewhere….
    then the letters started to come…wanting there money and what not…they charged me of theft and so on…
    keep it short ended with the judge granting me all $30,000.00…since it was not my fault and so may years went by…but in the end i ended up getting 15,000 because the bank was gonna go more in to legal matters with this..so judge just said take half and end it….
    “for thoose of you who think im a crook for taking the money …i only took it because for the court crap i had to go though when i was going though college…sucks balls…and since i didnt press any charges the judge said just take half.
    so i say just save it somewhere

  71. Anonymous says:

    you should either close the account or bring this to the attention of a higher up at citibank. the irs could realize you have a sum of income that isnt accounted for and it could in theory cause a problem. using the money to collect interest could in the end cause a problem. the ups thing…….i guess call ups and figure out the deal. also you should try to find out if someone has stolen your identity and is using your social and such to get work and is direct depositing it in ” there ” account which in the end gets mixed up with ” your ” account. :: shrugs:: that’s what i would do anyway….

    -Luis

  72. Anonymous says:

    Open a Savings account with CitiBank – And ask them to direct deposit the money from the credit card to the Savings account. Once they figure out their mistake – then they can deduct the money – and you never have to touch it.

    – With any luck – They won’t try to come after you for the interest that you earn from them.

    – As an extra bonus – They pay you even more money on the interest :D