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Recently I discover a great time saver. Rather than Fedexing my check to my bank in US, I simply photograph the check with IPhone and tada the check is deposited.

However I still have to have the check with me.

My friend have the same issue. He wants to send me money. He usually did that with paypal account. However, now my paypal is limited. It's not wise to send $3k-$4k via paypal anyway.

I propose that he scan his check, send it to me, I printed his check, then photograph again pretending I am photographing the real check.

I wonder if it's possible/legal?

The process of printing checks may seem like check forgery. However, there is nothing fraudulent. The money is indeed there and the guy really wants to pay me. It's more practical than sending the money via fedex to my house so I can "photograph" it.

Obviously it's not toward my best interest to commit fraud with this method given that I want my bank to trust me.

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Not illegal. With respect to littleadv response, the printing of a check isn't illegal. I can order checks from cheap check printers, and they have no relationship to any bank, so long as they have my routing number and checking account number, they print. Years ago (25+) I wrote my account details on a shirt in protest to owing the IRS money, and my bank cashed it. They charged a penalty of some nominal amount, $20 or so for 'non-standard check format' or something like that. But, in fact, stupid young person rants aside, you may write a check out by hand on a piece of paper and it should clear. The missing factor is the magnetic ink. But, I often see a regular check with a strip taped to the bottom when the mag strip fails, proving that bad ink will not prevent a check from clearing.

So long as the person trying to send you the funds isn't going to dispute the transaction (and the check is made out to you, so I suppose they couldn't even do that) this process should be simple. I see little to no risk so long as the image isn't intercepted along the way.

  • I would have selected this as the answer if not because I want some second opinion. In any case what the bank see is a photograph of the check anyway. So things like magnetic ink will have effect whatsoever. – user4951 Jun 9 '12 at 16:26
  • Oh ya, you can always order check from cheap check printers. – user4951 Jun 9 '12 at 16:30
  • Right. In my long-winded, logical fashion, I built a case going from bank check to hand printed, to a photo. The magnetic strip was just a tangent. Thanks for the 'best answer'. – JTP - Apologise to Monica Jun 9 '12 at 16:32
  • Hell, any time. The other answers got more votes though. I'll ask this somewhere else to make sure. Not a very common way. With this kind of info, paypal would go bankcrupt. I will ask for regular billpay. – user4951 Jun 9 '12 at 16:34
  • @JoeTaxpayer I'm not sure you're right. Printing checks may very well be illegal, if it someone else's checks, if its not in the US, if its unauthorized, etc. – littleadv Jun 9 '12 at 20:49
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It might be illegal for the very reason you stated: The process of printing checks may seem like check forgery. Banks in the US are allowed to do that, and the only condition under which you can do it with your iPhone (again, in the US) is the same as the one for banks: you can produce the original check on demand.

Of course, if the whole thing is legit and no-one is going to dispute the check (=no-one will demand the original from you), it might work (legal issues aside). It works in the US.

Beware of several things:

  1. It might not work. Banks can demand the original. If you can't produce one on demand, especially if the transaction is reported as fraudulent, you may get into a lot of trouble.

  2. Photocopying checks might not be legal in your jurisdiction (you're not in the US, you need to check local laws).

  3. Photocopying checks may result in images that cannot be deposited (like the word VOID appearing all around). That doesn't usually happen when taking a snapshot with an iPhone, but it happens (seen that myself, when scanned checks for records) if you're scanning.

  4. Deposit by scan/picture is usually limited to low amounts (I know that Chase limits it at several hundreds, I had troubles depositing $2K checks with them through the phone).

  • 1
    Are you sure they can demand an original? My bank specifically tells me to destroy the check after 14 days. But +1 for the limit; mine limit with schwab is pretty low too. – MrChrister Jun 9 '12 at 9:32
  • I also feel the low value checks could be cashed by the bank without proper verification. For higher limits, for security reasons, the bank may not process the transaction. – Natwar Lath Jun 9 '12 at 12:13
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    McCrhister, IIRC you should keep it until the statement posts, at least – littleadv Jun 9 '12 at 20:07
  • After depositing a check remotely, my bank instructs me to keep the original, write 'processed electronically' on it on the front, then destroy it after 45 days. Your bank will surely provide instructions, probably similar instructions. – user296 Jun 10 '12 at 16:51

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