1

I recently had two issues with banks & checks

  1. I deposited a check payable to my spouse & me in our joint account at the bank ATM. It was accepted, then rejected - missing endorsement. Turns out the bank needed two signatures if depositing at ATM and only one if deposited at a teller

  2. Someone created duplicate checks and cashed it. The names on the check didn't match the names on the account, the address was wrong. The only thing that was correct was the routing # and the account number. The bank let the check thru'

These made me wonder what exactly does a bank look/verify when processing a check. Extra points if someone could explain how banks combat check fraud like the one mentioned in #2

  • This depends a lot on how you're depositing the check. #2 sounds like the check was e-deposited, which many places do nowadays to avoid having to actually send the check physically to the requesting bank - they take the numbers off the check, zap them to the bank electronically, then are done. – Joe Apr 16 '15 at 18:16
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Banks are subject to a variety of regulations created at different times in history.

Regulations of human to human interaction was likely created by a different agency under a different congress and maintained by that agency, while regulations of ATMs that also accept check deposits is not governed under the same regulations, let alone checks deposited by scanning them in a phone app.

As such, company policies vary widely in what they look for, even though from a consumer perspective it may seem like you are trying to accomplish the exact same thing a different way.

So, to answer your question, banks look for checking account, routing number, and amount, and sometimes look at other parts of the transactional document depending on how the transaction was initiated. They don't all do the same things and are not all compliant with applicable regulations.

  • Don't forget that in-person, they have at least some chance at catching some issues - like if someone's trying to deposit a check also made out to his wife but then abscond with some of the money - while with an ATM they don't get that opportunity. – Joe Apr 16 '15 at 20:18
  • @Joe all ACH transactions can be retroactively evaluated and retroactively reversed, but .... you're not wrong, per say. You never know which part of banking processes are assumed to involve human discretion and actually does not – CQM Apr 16 '15 at 20:56

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