Call me paranoid but I really don't like the idea of someone depositing a check I gave them via a snapshot on their cell phone. I would prefer the check to go to a bank and not be stuffed in some dusty drawer.

Is there some way to prevent someone from depositing a check this way? Could I write something like "for physical deposit only" on the check and would that do any good?


No, most check deposits are processed that way. Banks transmit the pictures of the checks between themselves, and allow business customers to deposit scans for quite some time now.

I see no reason for you to be concerned of a check being in a dusty drawer, it's been deposited, cannot be deposited again. If you're concerned of forgery - well, nothing new there.

  • I know that banks and businesses have been doing this for years but when a bank or business does this they generally secure the check (and therefore all the information written on the check) for a given period of time before destroying it. That seems a lot more secure than someone just chucking my check in the garbage. Jul 16 '11 at 17:30
  • @Justin - mere perception. Not a real threat.
    – littleadv
    Jul 16 '11 at 21:27
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    @JustinOhms - wouldn't there be the same sort of concern if they physically deposited your check, but placed a photocopy of it in a drawer, or posted a picture of your check on Faebook? Jan 7 '16 at 2:22

I agree with you that smartphone deposits make you more vulnerable to a variety of issues. Checks are completely insecure, since anyone with your routing/account number can create a check, and individuals are less likely to shred or otherwise secure the check properly.

Ways to control this risk are:

  • Give people cash.
  • Use low-cost electronic transfer arrangements offered by your bank (ACH).
  • Use higher-cost electronic transfer arrangements. (Paypal/Square)
  • Check your statements closely to detect fraudulent transactions quickly.

I don't see any reason to worry about a check being deposited via cell phone. There isn't anything you can write on a check to make it physical deposit only or similar.

If you really want to keep your check from being read electronically you could always smudge the numbers but you run the risk of the bank not cashing it and possibly getting a return check fee.

  • That's an interesting idea wonder if you could add some sort of holographic ink to keep the account number from being read by a camera. Jul 17 '11 at 15:20
  • @JustinOhms - Theoretically, you could completely block out the account and routing numbers with black ink, as the numbers are read magnetically. I don't know how workable that really would be. Jan 7 '16 at 2:27
  • What banks do, if the numbers aren't readable, is they add a strip of paper to the bottom of the check, and reprint all the info on the strip of paper. They normally won't charge you if this happens occasionally. I don't know what they might do if every check you write needed this special attention. On the other hand, the strip is added by the bank where the check is deposited, not specifically your bank. By the time your bank gets the check, it has usually already been added if it was needed. Jan 7 '16 at 2:32

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