Bank clerk accidentally gives pensioner £190m

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A German bank clerk fell asleep at his desk, while his finger was pressed on the number 2 on his keyboard. As a result, he accidentally credited one pensioner's account with 222,222,222.22 euros (or roughly £190 million).

So how could this happen, and what are your rights if the bank makes an error in your favour?
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Sleepy

The bizarre transaction emerged during an employment tribunal in Germany, when the employee's supervisor was appealing against the bank's decision to fire her for failing to spot the mistake.

According to The Telegraph, the supervisor checked the documents related to the transaction and admitted she should have spotted the error, but said in her defence that she had checked 800 documents that day.

According to the BBC, the tribunal decided that she ought to have received a warning rather than being sacked, because there was no malicious intent involved and that she should be reinstated.

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Bank clerk accidentally gives pensioner £190m

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Armstrong was stripped of all his titles, ordered to return his prize money, and sponsors couldn't drop him quick enough. He is also being sued by teammates. It is estimated that it will cost him $125m.

After possibly one of biggest public meltdowns in history, the actor lost it with the creator of his TV series Two and a Half Men. His outburst together with outlandish behavior including alleged drug benders, porn stars and drink problems, lead to Sheen being fired from the show. He reportedly earned $1.25m per episode, meaning he lost $36m for the whole season.

At the height of her short career, teen star Lohan was commanding around $7.5m per movie at four movies per year. Yet the pressures of fame at a young age got to The Parent Trap and Mean Girls star, seeing her life spiral out of control as she became embroiled in allegations of drug and alcohol abuse, jewellery theft, and drunk driving. Her earnings quickly plummeted and remain he doldrums.

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Your rights

In this instance, the mistake was noticed by another colleague before impacting the pensioner's bank account. However, it begs the question of what would have happened if the pensioner in question suddenly found themselves £190m richer, and what your rights are in this sort of situation.

In the Monopoly game a 'bank error in your favour' is taken as a reason to help yourself to a few notes. However, under UK law it's not that simple. Not only do you have no right to keep the money, you have a duty to inform the bank and ask them to put it right.

If you keep quiet you can be accused of 'retaining wrongful credit'. There have been instances of individuals spending the money and paying a hefty price. There was one woman in Blackburn who spent an accidental £135,000 credit, and was jailed for 10 months in 2007.

There have been some instances where the individual was able to prove to a court that they didn't realise the payment was an error, but these cases are very few and far between, and unless you could show you realistically expected this sort of money in your account, you're on very dodgy ground.

So if you suddenly wake up one morning to find yourself 222 million euros better off, phone the bank, and sit on your hands to help you resist temptation until they take the cash back.

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If, like many Britons, you have failed to save the cash you need to maintain a comfortable standard of living in retirement, one option is to sell your home and downsize to a smaller property, using the money leftover to cover your living costs.
If moving out of the family home is too much of a wrench, however, the good news is that equity release schemes allow you to stay in your house or flat while still using the equity built up in it to provide some extra cash. The downside of the schemes, which work a bit like mortgages, is that you may not have much left to pass on to any children or other relatives.
But that's a small price to pay for a reasonable standard of living. For more information, try Age UK on 0800 169 6565.

Choosing the right annuity can have a significant impact on your retirement income. And as with most pensions, you automatically have what's called an 'open-market option' (OMO), you can scour the market for the highest annuity rate.
It is worth checking what your pension provider is offering first, though, as some companies offer guaranteed rates for existing customers that are likely to beat those available elsewhere. The Pensions Advisory Service on 0300 123 1047 is a good place to get some free advice.

On retirement, most people convert their pension fund into a guaranteed income annuity that pays out the same amount every month for the rest of their lives.
However, you can also choose an increasing annuity that pays out smaller amounts in the first few years but offers larger payments further down the line. This may prove a wise move if the rate of inflation remains at over 2%.

It is now easier to work later in life because the "default retirement age" has been scrapped.
People approaching retirement age and worrying about money can therefore choose to work for a few years longer - potentially transforming their financial situation. Other than the extra income from working, these people can look forward to higher state pensions, and higher annuity rates due to their greater age.
They can also benefit from bigger tax allowances and the fact that they no longer have to pay National Insurance contributions. Check out this nidirect website for more details.

You could get a much better rate with an impaired-life annuity if you have a medical condition that is likely to reduce your life expectancy.
Incredibly, even snoring, which is a common symptom of Sleep Apnoea could have an impact.
According to figures from MGM Advantage, a man with this condition could receive an extra £12,000 retirement income over the course of their retirement - or £571.44 extra money each year. Click here to find out more.

To maximise your retirement income, it is vital to ensure that you are receiving all the benefits to which you are entitled. These include the basic State Pension, and in some cases, the additional State Pension.
If you are on a low income, you could also qualify for the guaranteed element of Pension Credit, while those with some savings may get the savings element of this benefit. For more information about these and other benefits such as the Winter Fuel Payment, click here.

Many older couples rely on the pension income of one person - often the man. Should that person die first, the other person can therefore be left in a difficult position financially.
One way to prevent financial hardship for the surviving person is to take out a joint life annuity that will continue to pay out up to 67% of the original payments to the surviving partner should one of them die.
The disadvantage of this approach, however, is that the rate you receive will be lower. Again, the Pensions Advisory Service on 0845 601 2923 is a useful first port of call if you are unsure what to do.

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