21

What if I deposit a check into a Bank of America ATM but forget to endorse it with my signature on the back of the check?

  • I dropped a check in an American ATM for an American bank without an endorsement, because I forgot. Nobody ever bothered me or called me about it, and the money appeared as normal. It's possible that the act of depositing in an ATM is equivalent to signing, since the ATM requires authentication. – jprete Aug 31 '11 at 14:59
  • Today, you can email a photo of the check to the clearing house andthe check will clear in a few hours. Checks are never handled by people except at the teller's desk. – pojo-guy Jan 16 '18 at 4:01
6

If a bank employee catches it then typically they would call you and ask you to come in to sign the check. If they can't get a hold of you they would probably mail it back to you. There is a chance that they won't catch in which case it would just be deposited into your account like any other check.

  • 15
    I have deposited hundreds of checks in my time and never, ever signed the back of one made out to me. None have ever been returned or queried. – DJClayworth Jun 13 '13 at 21:38
34

You do not have to endorse a check at the bank you have an account with. By leaving the back of the check blank, and thus failing to endorse it, you automatically endorse the check with a restricted endorsement (similar to "For Deposit Only").

As such, the teller wouldn't have to call you back to the window as alluded to in stoj's answer.

For clarification see Restrictive Indorsement in the Uniform Commercial Code (UCC) § 3-206 Subsection C.

  • 2
    This should probably be the answer. – Jason Aug 25 '13 at 16:12
  • Unless banks can impose policies with more restrictive requirements than what the UCC allows. – hemp Apr 1 '15 at 20:07
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    Discover mobile deposit doesn't take large checks ($280) without endorsement, Ally mobile deposit doesn't take any check without endorsement. – sdaffa23fdsf Dec 21 '15 at 21:36
  • Though I will say tax refund checks may be different. I rarely bother to sign checks, but when I tried to deposit our refunds last week, the teller refused to deposit them without both my and my wife's signatures, either appearing in person or with our driver's license numbers written on them. And yes, the account is in both of our names. – Kevin Apr 16 at 18:48
  • @sdaffa23fdsf Mobile deposit may be different since you retain possession of the check (you could submit the mobile deposit and then try to deposit it in person, for instance—that's why most also require the "for mobile deposit only" text as well). I haven't had a problem with not signing and depositing large checks in an ATM (Citi). – Kevin Apr 16 at 18:50
3

It may clear, or they (either bank) may call you. I'm POA on my mother-in-law's account. When she wrote a check and forgot top sign it, it made it through the first bank, but the bank the check was written from called me. I was able to fax them an authorization to clear the check, and all was well.

3

I'm not sure if this necessity to endorse a cheque only applies in the U.S. In Canada, I have never endorsed a cheque I deposited. I have never been requested to do so when dealing with a teller, and have never had an issue depositing a cheque via an ATM.

2

Almost all checks are processed electronically nowadays. Thus, signatures probably don't matter much unless you use the teller and you want cash instead of a deposit. However, I would still think that they spot check some checks and if you don't sign then as luck would have it, they'll pick your check to spot check. This may delay clearing the funds for your use until the matter is taken care of.

  • When I find myself writing phrases like "probably don't matter much" and "I would still think", I stop, because it cues me that I don't actually know the answer. – Spike0xff Oct 20 '18 at 18:01
2

The banks in the U.S., when I worked for one, had a stamp that says "Deposit Only To the Within Named Payee" for deposits only if the name on the front of the check matches to the name on the account it's going to....it's logical considering it's being deposited to the person the check is made out to. Funds will most likely not be available for a few days however, under these circumstances.

1

The reasoning behind endorsing a check is to restrict what other people can do with the check. If you're the named Payee on the check, then of course you can deposit it without an endorsement. If you endorse it as "for deposit only", then someone else who gets ahold of it can't deposit it into their own account (because you're the payee, not them). But if you leave it blank, then they can fake your endorsement (e.g., "payable to Joe Blow") and try to cash it or something.

protected by John Bensin Aug 25 '13 at 13:07

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