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This question already has an answer here:

I recently got a raise, which is great. However, I got my paycheck today and it seems to indicate that my raise is double what they told me it would be. My first instinct is that they are trying to make the raise retroactively apply to the previous pay period, but in case the next paycheck has a similar overpayment, what should I do?

I've asked others and they told me I shouldn't say anything about it, because the only possible change is that I get less money. But my concern is that they will discover an error and demand repayment. Can they force me to repay it all at once? Do they garnish wages over time instead? Should I be putting this excess money away if I don't bring it up?

Basically, what is the worst thing that can happen if it turns out I am being overpaid by accident?

EDIT: someone suggested this was a duplicate of another question, but that other question is specifically asking about the tax ramifications of overpayment bumping someone up to another tax bracket. This question has nothing to do with taxes.

marked as duplicate by The Wandering Dev Manager, gnat, jimm101, mcknz, Masked Man Oct 1 '16 at 16:55

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

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    is that they will discover an error and demand repayment - This certainly can happen. I know a know a person it happened to, lawyers got involved and things were messy. You shouldn't spend money, unless you are certain it is yours. You probably should talk to someone and fix it sooner then later. – Zoredache Sep 30 '16 at 0:04
  • When I was in the military folks just wouldn't be paid until the amount that they were overpaid was made square. This was over a decade ago, while I admire the effectiveness of that approach it feels a little harsh in retrospect. – HireThisMarine Sep 30 '16 at 1:31
  • Whenever I have gotten raises, they were always effective retroactively from the beginning of the year (they generally informed about it in early February). But it always showed up as a separate row in the payslip, eg. "Retroactive pay from 1.1.YYYY" or similar, in addition to the raised amount appearing as the base salary. – Juha Untinen Sep 30 '16 at 4:52
  • The duplicate may be slightly different in detail, but the main points are 1) you can be asked to pay it back, and 2) this question is specific to company policy, and is likely off-topic for this site. – mcknz Sep 30 '16 at 21:38
  • You are lucky, you can simply send the extra money back and you are superhonest. If you are over-informed, it is a much worse situation. – Gray Sheep Apr 6 '17 at 15:15
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Instead of worrying about all the things that will happen if you secretly don't say anything and get overpaid a long time, the solution is simple.

Talk to your boss. Or potentially your payroll system administrator, if you have a way to check your salary online in a system and can verify it is correctly updated.

Figure out if there is a problem or not. Trying to guess, or wonder if you've gotten an extra raise, or anything else is almost assuredly going to leave you curious at best and get you in serious trouble at worst.

  • +1, I was in exactly this situation and when I spoke to HR I discovered they'd given me a rise but forgot to tell me. It was great to just remove the worry and the extra money was an unexpected bonus. – Dustybin80 Sep 30 '16 at 7:59
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    I took this advice and asked my manager about it. He confirmed that my raise was retroactively applied to the previous pay period, so that extra money just belongs to me now. Thanks for the perspective. – TheSoundDefense Sep 30 '16 at 20:16
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    @TheSoundDefense perfect! Now you don't have to worry :-) – enderland Sep 30 '16 at 20:22
  • That money's going to a new capture card now. – TheSoundDefense Sep 30 '16 at 20:37
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They will want the money back and if it is a lot they will try to make repayment easier. This is because taking a employee to court is not a good idea. Think of the working atmosphere. Think of the cost. It is easier for all if you pay a bit back each month out of your pay instead.

If you think you are getting overpaid it is best to nip it in the bud. Ask HR/Payroll to check. Getting overpaid for one month and having to pay it back is a lot easier that having to repay months.

4

I got my paycheck today and it seems to indicate that my raise is double what they told me it would be. My first instinct is that they are trying to make the raise retroactively apply to the previous pay period, but in case the next paycheck has a similar overpayment, what should I do?

You should immediately bring it to their attention. Perhaps you are being paid more to make up for a low previous pay, but more likely it was just a mistake. It's also possible that you are misinterpreting what is shown on your check.

Bringing it up on your own rather than waiting until they notice will demonstrate that you are an honest person, rather than a sneaky person.

I've asked others and they told me I shouldn't say anything about it, because the only possible change is that I get less money. But my concern is that they will discover an error and demand repayment. Can they force me to repay it all at once? Do they garnish wages over time instead? Should I be putting this excess money away if I don't bring it up?

Once they discover the mistake, you will have to pay it back. Depending on the company and the circumstances, they may demand that it's paid back in a lump sum. More likely, they give you time to pay it back.

If you decide to keep the money in spite of knowing it doesn't actually belong to you, put it in the back and don't touch it. Eventually, is has to go back.

(Ask your friends if they found the wallet that you lost with your pay in it if they would return it to you or keep it. Their answer will tell you if you should take advice from them in the future or not.)

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    The thing is most companies have auditors. Chances are extremely good that they will eventually find it if you are being overpaid. Sometimes that takes years though. Do you really want to be asked to give back 10,000 and have your pay garnished at some future employer? There often is no statute of limitations on how long they have to reclaim their money.Do you want your boss asking you qquestions about why didn't you say something about the amount being too large at some future date? – HLGEM Sep 30 '16 at 20:07

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