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If someone deposits a large personal check (significantly more than their regular paycheck but less than $10k) into their personal checking account, is the bank allowed to ask any questions? Is the customer required to answer? Would there be any negative repercussions were the customer to refuse to answer?

It's nothing illegal, simply a gift from a family member. The customer just happens to be very sensitive about maintaining their family's privacy.

If it matters, the deposit would be to a locally-owned bank in the US with which the customer has a long-standing relationship.

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  • At the end of last year, my father gave me $15K check. I brought it to my bank, the teller deposited it, and said, "Have a nice day." That's it.
    – RonJohn
    Commented Feb 6, 2021 at 4:21
  • I once deposited a 6-figure check and was nervous the bank would think I'm a drug dealer. :) Not a single question was asked.
    – minou
    Commented Feb 6, 2021 at 14:34
  • The only thing to be wary of is the bank going into 'sales mode', asking if you wish to invest such a deposit or put it in a CD. Commented Feb 6, 2021 at 16:26
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    Today I deposited a personal check for $70K. As usual, it took about 30 seconds, then the teller said, "Have a great day!" I then asked if it would take longer than normal to clear, and she said, "I don't see any holds, so 3-5 business days."
    – TTT
    Commented Mar 5, 2021 at 20:34
  • If it is simply a gift you might want to go the cash route and do it in smaller chunks - and not at same bank. There is more to it, to keep the money trail more confidential but those two basics will keep you from being detected without a more forensic approach.
    – blankip
    Commented Mar 5, 2021 at 21:22

2 Answers 2

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It's extremely unlikely that the bank will ask questions.

First, most deposits are entirely automatic. The bank will not even notice the deposit.

Second, it's not that unusual that someone receives a payment of a few thousand dollars. They may have sold something or received a gift.

Third it's not the bank's business unless they think the payment may be fraudulent or illegal in some way.

Fourth, even if they ask you are under no obligation to answer.

It's a different story for international payments over $10,000, but your deposit won't attract any attention.

Since you say you are concerned about family privacy I should point out that the bank will have a record of who wrote the cheque, and if (for example) the police were to get a warrant to search your financial records they will discover who made the payment to you.

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From an article titled Bank Secrecy Act - The $10,000 Rule

Under the $10,000 Rule, What Does "Cash" Mean?

Cash is of course U.S. coin or currency. Cash also applies to currency of any other nation. Cash can also be a cashier's check, money order, certified check, traveler's check or bank draft if:

It is for $10,000 or less AND it is received by the business in a designated reporting transaction such as the sale of a durable consumer good like a car or boat or for travel and entertainment that has a price over $10,000.

These monetary instruments will also be considered cash if the business has actual knowledge that the payer is trying to avoid the reporting of the transaction. That last is a sort of industry self policing requirement.

A personal check is not considered cash for purposes of Bank Secrecy Act Compliance. A wire transfer is not considered cash under the Rule. So if you buy a $12,000 car and pay $4,000 cash and $8,000 by wire transfer, this would NOT be a reportable transaction because the wire transfer is not cash and the remaining 4k is less than the 10k cash threshold for reporting.

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