You've Sent a Wire Transfer. Now What?

Cash Management

The mechanics of a wire transfer make it a popular settlement option for moving large sums of money. Wires are sent from a business or personal account at one financial institution to an account at another financial institution. When the wire is initiated, the money is immediately withdrawn from the sender’s account and delivered to the receiving financial institution where it is deposited into the receiver’s account according to the instructions provided by the sender.

Once the wire is sent from the account of the sender, it is just a matter of seconds before it arrives at the receiving bank. This is faster than other payment methods such as  check payments, which can take from one to several days to be received and deposited into the receiver’s bank account.

The speed of settlement of the funds makes wire transfers a popular method for large, important transactions. They are often used for real estate transactions and for businesses to quickly move money between accounts or to settle transactions. Unfortunately, the speed of settlement and permanence of the transaction also make wires a popular payment method for scammers. Unlike checks, there is no such thing as a “stop payment” for a wire.

Here are a few points to bear in mind when sending a wire transfer.

  • Establish protocols at your business to ensure that money transfers are legitimate.
    • Email and texting are great communication tools but should not be relied on for approvals or money transfer instructions alone.
    • All money transfer instructions received electronically (email/text), even from another person in your own company, should be verified by calling the person requesting the money at a known good number (not a number provided in an email).
    • If it is a large transfer, consider sending a smaller amount first and confirm with the beneficiary that they received the money (verbally, not through text/email) before sending the entire amount.
  • Once a wire transfer is authorized the money is transferred and the sending bank cannot recover it or stop the process.  
  • Due to privacy laws, banks cannot provide details or confirm the beneficiary account information on the wire.  If the account number on the wire form matches an account number at the receiving bank, the money will post to that account regardless of the name on the account at the other bank.
  • FDIC insurance does not cover wire transfers that do not reach the intended beneficiary. For more information about FDIC insurance, please visit the FDIC site at https://www.fdic.gov/about/what-we-do/

Because a wire transfer cannot be stopped or the funds recovered once initiated, they are a popular tool used by scammers who may pose as a vendor or employee of a company and attempt to receive a payment via wire. To help protect your funds, your banker may ask questions when you request a wire transfer. These are not intended to pry, but to check for red flags that might indicate a possible scam. Questions could include:

  • Why are you sending a wire instead of using another payment method? 
  • Have you sent a wire to this account/routing number before? 
  • How were the wire instructions received? 

For more information about wire transfers and other electronic payment methods, talk to a banker at 877-671-2265, or visit https://www.enterprisebanking.com/business/business-services/cash-management-solutions.

For more information about account security, visit https://www.enterprisebanking.com/security.

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