Direct deposit saves you a trip to the bank on payday, as long as you provide the right banking information to your payroll processor. To prevent errors, many payroll departments ask you to provide a canceled check along with your direct deposit enrollment form. If you do happen to write down the wrong account number on your form, you will need to correct it as soon as possible.
In most cases, the bank will catch the error and return your money to your employer rather than making the deposit in the wrong account. If the bank fails to catch the mistake, the erroneous deposit gets reversed and then a proper deposit made into your account.
TL;DR (Too Long; Didn't Read)
If you wrote the wrong number on your direct deposit form, the bank might detect the issue and refund the money to your employer, or it might reverse the deposit and place it in your correct account. You can face a delay in your pay as a result of this error.
No Deposit on Pay Day
You'll know something is wrong when you find out that your direct deposit didn't get credited as planned. Once you suspect that you provided the wrong account number, call your bank to ask what happens to the deposit in this situation. Usually the deposit goes back to the payroll department. In that case, you need to contact your employer or payroll agency and inform someone there of your mistake.
Unfortunately, this means you won't have access to your money until the issue gets resolved. Your payer may require that the money return to its account before re-sending it or cutting you an old-fashioned paper check. Once you've corrected your account number, the next direct deposit will go through seamlessly.
Running a Trace
If you didn't receive your funds and the payroll department didn't get the money back from the bank, payroll will have to initiate a trace to find out where the money went. This might take time. If you can prove that the money you're due didn’t end up in your account, you can make a case for getting your deposit replaced while the bank is tracing the lost funds. Obviously, this will require that you provide the correct account number this time around.
There's no guarantee this will work, but it's worth a try if you need the funds to cover important expenses. You may not see your money until the payroll department does, but it never hurts to ask.
Direct Deposit Advantages
If you provide the wrong account information, your experience with direct deposit may get off to a rocky start. Using direct deposit option has several advantages, however. For one, you won’t need to go to the bank on your lunch hour to deposit your paycheck or rush across town after work before the bank closes. If you’re waiting for a tax refund check or government benefit payment, you don’t need to worry about someone stealing it from your mailbox.
In many instances, the deposit will show up the morning of your regular payday. There might also be cases when it arrives before your co-workers get their paper checks. And because the transaction is electronic, your bank typically allows you to use the funds immediately rather than waiting for a paper check to clear the issuing bank’s coffers.
Who Uses Direct Deposit
Direct deposit is so commonplace among employers and government agencies that you may just assume it's offered. In fact, federal benefit payments require it. Recipients who don’t have bank accounts receive a pre-paid debit card to hold their deposits. If you already have direct deposit at your employer and are considering switching banks, you'll need to fill out a new form with the new account number to ensure your pay still arrives correctly and on time.
- American Payroll Association: Direct Deposit
- U.S. Department of the Treasury: Go Direct
- Intuit TurboTax: What if I Entered the Wrong Bank Account for Direct Deposit?
- National Automated Clearinghouse Association: Direct Deposit for Consumers
- Are You Ever Allowed to Spend Money That Was Mistakenly Deposited Into Your Bank Account?
- My Bank Tracker: How to Set Up Direct Deposit Without a Voided Check
Based in Central Texas, Karen S. Johnson is a marketing professional with more than 30 years' experience and specializes in business and equestrian topics. Her articles have appeared in several trade and business publications such as the Houston Chronicle. Johnson also co-authored a series of communications publications for the U.S. Agency for International Development. She holds a Bachelor of Science in speech from UT-Austin.