You know how sometimes you start telling this awesome story, but then halfway through you realize it’s not so awesome but you keep going, and then at the end you realize it was actually a horrible story and there wasn’t a single thing interesting about it so you end it with… and then I found five dollars?

Well that has nothing to do with my post today, because I honestly found $1000 today (to be precise, it was actually $950).

I was logging into my online checking account because I calculated my net worth today (which went up over $4,000 this month thanks in large part to the stock market) and I noticed my balance was unusually high. I looked at the transactions, and sure enough there was a $950 deposit sitting in my account from some generous stranger who wanted to make my day with a bountiful gift of many dollars gracing my account.

Yep, and Brett Favre just wanted to be friends with Jenn Sterger.

Favre one thousand dollars

So here I am with almost $1000 of extra money, and what’s the first thing I do? Call Chase and tell them to take the money back and put it in the right guy’s account. I really didn’t even consider trying to keep it or withdrawing it because it wasn’t my money. I’m afraid the guy who made that deposit needed that money to pay bills and would find out he doesn’t have it and freak out. I don’t want that for anyone.

Side note: It took Chase 14 minutes to log this issue, and the guy still said it would take 2-3 business days to be fixed. I feel bad for the dude who deposited that money two days ago and won’t have it for another three days.

But then I started thinking; what if I had spent the money (either by accident or intentionally to cash in on the mistake)? Would I legally be entitled to that money? If so, would Chase be out the $950 or would the guy whose “3’s” look like “5’s” on his deposit slip be the one who loses a G? If I’m not legally entitled to that money, how would I pay it back? Do I have to give it back instantly? And what if I already spent it and don’t have the money to give back instantly? Could I set up a repayment plan?

Another side note: Today is the last day to vote for me in the Spenster.org contest! Vote please! Gracias!

So Thousandaires, I have a few questions for you today.

First, if you know the legal rights to money in your account (even if it’s not actually supposed to be there) please enlighten me and the rest of the readers. Would have had the law behind me if I spent that money?

Second, what would you have done in this situation and why? Would you call Chase like I did and spend 14 minutes helping fix a problem that doesn’t negatively affect you at all? Would you have taken the money and spent it? Would you just leave it alone and hope they never realize the error?

*This post was included at the Carnival of Personal Finance