Is it safe to deposit checks through an ATM?

Tips for Depositing Through an ATM

So you're making a deposit at the ATM. To minimize your risk of a potential problem with the transaction, follow these tips:

  • When using the envelope method, record the transaction in your checkbook. If you are using an advanced ATM equipped with scanning features, take advantage of the opportunity to examine and verify the scanned amounts. As with all important transactions, keep the receipt of your ATM deposit. If you use an advanced ATM, print out the images of the checks on the receipt as well.
  • No matter what kind of ATM you use, financial planners always advise that you examine your bank statement, or better yet, frequently check your online statement. Examine the statement to verify all the transactions for accuracy. As soon as you spot a mistake, contact your bank. The receipt will be the documentation you need to back up your claim if you ever find a mistake on a statement. And if you provide a receipt to the bank to prove your claims, photocopy the receipt for your own records.

Of course, there are alternatives that we haven't yet discussed. Probably the most important of these is you should talk to your employer about the possibility of direct deposit. This will ensure that your regular paycheck automatically gets deposited into your bank account. You'll receive the paycheck stub for your records and you'll save yourself the hassle of having to visit the bank or the ATM to make a deposit.

And, as convenient as ATMs are, an even easier technology might soon become prevalent. The bank USAA now allows customers to deposit checks via iPhone. With their application, it's as easy as taking a picture of both sides of the check and sending it to the bank [source: Stellin].

But, of course, this service is only available to qualifying USAA bank customers who have ready access to an iPhone. Until such services become more common, you'll have to ask yourself whether the convenience of ATM deposits is worth the risk.

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