The age of technology has proven to be a double-edged sword in most things, but perhaps most especially in personal finance. Money is always a quick swipe away in the form of a palm-sized plastic card, but then again so is debt. And, despite the convenience, efficiency and supposed security of it all, you might be among the many who've resisted the trend of trusting an Automated Teller Machine (ATM) with a hard-earned paycheck. Who can blame you? Feeding your livelihood into a computer on a street corner just doesn't feel as safe and secure as dealing with a flesh-and-blood teller standing near a bank vault.
But, the next time you find yourself waiting in a long line at the bank and you're running late for work, you might start to think that ATM on the corner looks awfully tempting.
Not only are ATMs often faster, but you can usually find them more easily than a branch of your bank and in most of the places you need them, including grocery stores, restaurants, hotels and airports. They're also available long after the bank has closed its doors, outside of normal banking hours, which is when most people are at work. You probably even have friends who deposit their checks through ATMs all the time with no complaints. And your bank is always quick to assure you that it's perfectly secure.
So, should you take the plunge?
Depositing checks through an ATM is generally safe. Mistakes do happen, but they're rare. The good news is that as the technology improves, in the words of Paul McCartney, it's getting better all the time.
We'll explain the process, what can go wrong and what to do if it does. First, to see what can go wrong, let's go over what's supposed to happen when things go right.