The principle of IST
Annual pre-Christmas break or annual work-holiday?

The monthly mystery of the missing pound

When you are a bookkeeper (and a double Capricorn!) like me you have the habit of checking your online bank accounts daily. I do, business wise as well as personal accounts.
This way I keep a close check on the cash-flow, very important responsibility when being in business.

Now, some time last year I noticed there was a 1 pound difference between the balance and 'currently cleared balance' on one of our business bank accounts. There can be a difference between the two when we have paid something by debit card that normally takes two - three days to appear on the balance, but is deducted from the currently cleared balance - available moneys so to say.

But in this case I knew there wasn't a £ 1.00 due anywhere. So I called my bank and told them one of my pounds had gone 'walk-abouts'. They would look into it. 15 minutes later they informed me there was nothing they could see and that I shouldn't worry: that little pound would surely come back safely home soon.

Which it did; two days later.

Almost every month I notice the same: at one point one of our pounds goes 'walk-about' and returns home safely two - three days later.
Weird! Does that happen only to our account?

Imagine being able to borrow one single pound (who would miss it?) from all your clients - 100.000, 500.000, a million clients? - just for a few days to 'play with'. What could you generate in profit from it?

Borrowed without consent - like my school friend used to do with my push-bike all those years ago. She took mine because hers was at the back of the stack and I 'didn't need it at that time'. I did 15 minutes later and had to walk! Frustrating!

I know it's just 1 pound that always "materialises" again, but still: it irks me. I truly don't like mysteries of the financial kind.

(Or am I just paranoid? - do your pounds/dollars/euros ever go "walk-about"?)


Tony Clarke

It would be nice to know which Bank you are dealing with. Some are more likely to indulge in the this sort of 'messing about with your money' than others.
I've checked my accounts(2)and they are OK, however I will now be more diligent and if they do start 'borrowing' a few quids every now and again I'll let you know.
Point I would make is this - all banks are desperate to get out of the Government's hands as soon as they can so they can revert to being independent banks again and able to freely look after their shareholders. They will inevitably use every trick in the book to grab every last penny they can from us, their customers, until they've got Gordon the Moron off their backs. As long as I'm not swindled by them I'm not too concerned by their little tricks. Much of my pension income WAS derived from Bank dividends so the sooner they are back doing their own thing the better from a personal point of view.

Karin H.

Hi Tony

Perhaps we should launch a 'online survey': which bank does borrow a pound from you once in a while? ;-)

I'm pretty sure this would pin-point the culprits quickly enough? Don't think it would be any use telling the FSA about it: they are in the 'same waters' with the banks: any which way will do to get them properly up and running again.
And there I was thinking this properly up and running meant: being sensible and honest to your clients.

Karin H.


yes! my pound has gone missing and i dont know where its gone?! I dont know if i should ring the bank and ask or just wait

Karin H.

Always call your bank if you are in doubt. If you wait and the stray pound finds its way back to you, they won't have any 'records' of it being awol.

Karin H

At 14:49 30/04/2009, you wrote:


I was told one pound is taken from the account when you make online purchases and it should be back in 10 days time. Apparently this method is used to check if the account is real.


This has been happening to me with Lloydstsb over a period of time. I finally called them and they said nothing they can do about it. One explanation was an old debit card number can still withdraw cash from your account, but in very rare circumstances - WTF So much for a bank being a safe place to keep your money

Karin H.

Well, as long as the 'wanderer' returns it is safe. I believe more and more Maggie has the right assumption: a business checking if your card is real.

Karin H

Fred Holmes

I like a good, cracking conspiracy theory as much as the next guy, but I'm finding it hard to believe that ANY bank would go to the expense of purloining 1 of any countries currency from multiple thousands of customer accounts unless the rewards so far exceeded the expense of setting up the scam that the risk of the undertaking is negligible.
F'rinstance, even with automated systems, SOMEONE has to write the code, de-bug it, install it on the server, execute it and wait for the results, praying all the while that the auditors don't show up unexpectedly in the interim.
Now, given, many institutions have a pressing incentive to enhance their bottom line in this day of multiple defalcations at high levels in the financial world, but do they all presume that detection is so unlikely that the rewards outweigh the risks?

If that's the case, then perhaps it would be MORE rewarding for the institutions in question to create a NEW PRODUCT LINE and sell shares in it. Surely there would be a vast amount of interest in a proven effective derivative instrument that carries high ROI and low risk.


Karin H.

Right you are Fred

Although I do know of instances moneys are "borrowed" for a few days where the borrower uses it to make more.

But I've come to understand and realise these missing pounds occurrences are indeed nothing more than checking the account is real without actually transferring the moneys.

Remains the question if your bank would penalise you if your available balance gets you into the red with this single "borrowed" pound.
Now that would truly be a conspiracy! ;-)

Karin H

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