You could lose money if you enter wrong IFSC for online fund transfer

When transferring money online through your bank account, you not only need to ensure that you enter the correct account number but also the correct IFSC (Indian Financial System Code). Each bank branch has a separate IFSC of its own.

To make online fund transfer using National Electronic Funds Transfer (NEFT), Real-Time Gross Settlement (RTGS) or Immediate Payment Service (IMPS), you first need to register the person’s bank account to whom you want to transfer money under the list of payees or beneficiaries to your bank account. To register the beneficiary, you need to give details, including the beneficiary’s name, bank name, account number and IFSC.

According to Reserve Bank of India (RBI)’s regulations, it is mandatory to add the payee’s name while making an online fund transfer. Some banks match the beneficiary’s name as a precautionary measure to ensure fund transfer happens to the correct account, but it’s not mandatory for banks to do so.

We tell you what happens if you enter the IFSC for a different bank branch or a different bank.

What is IFSC code?

IFSC is an 11-digit alphanumeric unique code that is used to identify each branch of every bank in India. Usually, the first four characters of the code stand for the bank, the fifth is always a “0″, and the last six digits represent the branch code. For example, SBIN0040278 is an IFSC code one of the branches of State Bank of India (SBI) uses. The first four characters, SBIN, stand for the bank’s name, while the last six digits (40278) represent the branch of SBI.

Using IFSC, RBI identifies the beneficiary’s bank to which the transfer has to be made.

“In case of an outward transfer IFSC is used to identify the destination bank where the beneficiary account is held,” said Sanjay Gupta, president and business head, IT, Kotak Mahindra Bank Ltd.

What happens when you enter wrong IFSC?

Generally, the chances of making an error are less as most of the banks ask customers to choose the name of the bank and the name of the branch from a dropdown to get the IFSC code, but banks also give the option to write the IFSC code. But here’s what happens in case of the following two scenarios.

If you select IFSC of a different branch: Suppose you have to transfer funds to the Noida branch of SBI but you selected the IFSC code of the Connaught Place branch. In this case, the money transfer will most likely happen, provided other details you enter are correct.

“If the incorrect IFSC code refers to a wrong branch of the same bank, then the fund transfer could still be possible. This is because the next reference point is the account number and the name of the account holder. The account number maps back to the branch and enables a transfer if the name of the account holder matches,” said Adhil Shetty, CEO, Bankbazaar.com, an online marketplace for financial instruments.

Remember, all banks may not match the beneficiary name before making the fund transfer, so if the account number matches, the transaction will go through.

If you select IFSC of a different bank: Suppose you had to transfer money to an ICICI Bank account but you chose the IFSC of SBI (the chances of something like this are low). In this case, whether or not the fund transfer happens will depend on whether SBI has an account with a matching account number.

“If the bank has an account with the account number in the branch identified by IFSC, then the transfer will go through. If there is no such account number, then the transaction will be returned,” said Shetty.

The chances of two banks having the same account number are rare but not impossible.

“Account numbers are a combination of numbers, therefore it is possible that two banks have the same account number,” said Gupta.

Online fund transfers are convenient but it is important to be careful because once the money is credited into the wrong bank account, it is usually very difficult to get the money back or reverse the transaction. You will have to approach your bank to see if anything can be done.

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