Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Survey says

About five years ago I was accessing my checking account online and discovered two tax refunds, one from the federal government, one from the state. My initial delight changed to confusion in about two seconds because 1) I was not expecting any refunds that year, and 2) I had not yet filed my tax returns. I called my credit union to report the mistake (it turned out to be some transposed digits in the account number) and forgot about it.

The next year, the same thing happened. And the next year, too. Each time I reported the error immediately. After the third time, though, the other party was so impressed with my honesty that they rewarded me with their state tax refund, which amounted to several hundred dollars. Totally unnecessary but very nice of them indeed.

Each time these errors occurred, I related the story to my co-workers. Surprisingly (at least, to me), a couple of my co-workers berated me for reporting the error right away, suggesting I should have just kept the money and waited to see if the error was ever detected. I never considered keeping the money - someone was enthusiastically and mayby anxiously awaiting its delivery - and besides, it could easily be traced to my account. My co-workers then suggested I should have spent it, like that would have disguised the electronic audit trail.

Anyway, this seems like a good topic for a survey! Since not very many people read this blog, invite your friends and family to stop by and voice their opinion. I'm really curious to see if I am too honest for my own good.



flurrious said...

I would say report it immediately, for all the same reasons you gave. And now I am off to go recheck for the umpteenth time the account number that I wrote on my tax return.

Shea said...

You absolutely did the right thing. Ask your coworkers how they would feel if they were in the other guys shoes. I guarantee they would get all self-righteous and accuse the other person of stealing their money!