What Happens If You Write the Wrong Account Number for Direct Deposit?

Direct deposit gives you quick and easy access to your pay.

Direct deposit gives you quick and easy access to your pay.

Direct deposit saves you a trip to the bank on payday -- as long as you provide the right banking information to your payroll processor. If you happen to write down the wrong account number on your direct deposit form, you will need to correct it as soon as possible.

It's Payday and There's No Deposit

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 got the account number wrong, call your bank to ask what happens to the deposit in this situation. Odds are the deposit goes back to the payroll department. In that case you need to contact your employer or payroll agency and let them know you provided the wrong account number. Unfortunately, this means you won't have access to your money until it's resolved. The issuer may require that the money returns to its account before re-sending it or cutting you an old-fashioned paper check. Just make sure you correct the account number immediately so the next one goes through seamlessly.

Talk to Payroll

If the payroll department doesn’t receive the funds back due to an incorrect account number, it will have to initiate a trace to find out where the deposit went. This might take time. However, if you can prove that the money you are 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 is no guarantee this will work, but it might be worth a try if you need the funds to cover important expenses.

When It Works, It Works Well

Using direct deposit option has several advantages. You don’t need to go to the bank on your lunch hour to deposit your paycheck, or rush 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. All of these advantages, however, are still dependent on your writing the correct account number.

Who Uses Direct Deposit

Direct deposit is so commonplace among employers and government agencies that you may just assume it will be offered. In fact, some government agencies even require it. Recipients who don’t have bank accounts are given a pre-paid debit card to hold their deposits. If you already have direct deposit at your employer, and are considering switching banks, you will need to fill out a new form with the new account number to ensure your pay still arrives correctly and on time.


About the Author

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.

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