Banks are constantly striving to find new ways to make our banking experiences more convenient; for example, many banks allow their customers to deposit checks into their personal accounts simply by taking a photo of it on their phone. This convenience, however, comes at the price of enhanced risk for the consumer.
A caveat to this mobile banking capability is that it after the check is photographed and deposited, the customer is still left with the check. If the check is not disposed of properly, it is still “in play” so to speak. An employee of Bank of America, one bank that offers this service, explained, “[a]s long as the ‘live’ check is still in existence, there is a chance that it could be negotiated more times.”
In Arizona, a woman deposited a $1,500 check into her Bank of America account using the mobile app, but she didn’t dispose of the check properly after depositing it. Two months later $1,500 was taken from her account. When she contacted Bank of America to ask what happened, it told her that it couldn’t give her any information regarding the transaction. She investigated the matter herself and found out that someone found the check, signed the back (under her initial signature) and re-deposited it. This resulted in the money being taken out of her account long after she deposited it.
If you have any uncertainty as to what to do with a check after you deposit them via your mobile app, write “deposited” on it while it’s being processed and then rip it up or throw it to the shredder. This will prevent anyone from finding the check in one piece and re-depositing it. As to how long to keep the original check before destroying, check with your particular bank’s policies, as many of them differ as to how long they want the originals to be kept.