Go Ahead, It's Still Safe to Cash Checks With Your Phone
Cash is going extinct, and at the very least we can hope that means the end of annoying coins and, maybe, just maybe, the end of $x.99 prices. Just charge me $4 so I'm not stuck with that penny, okay?
But we diverge.
Mobile payments have taken over transactions everywhere and now mobile banking wants to make the other side of money—saving it—just as easy.
According to the American Bankers Association, 1 in 3 Americans deposited a check with a mobile device in 2016. And many of those users reported doing it frequently.
Mobile check deposits are a big part of the mobile banking boom that's escalating with the increasing security of mobile phones. Without having to visit a bank or ATM, you can take a picture of both sides of your check and securely deposit it into your bank account through their mobile app.
With only a few short steps, you can deposit that check from your couch, even on a Sunday, even at midnight, in as many steps as it takes to Snap a selfie with dog whiskers.
The possible drawbacks to mobile deposits are basically the same as when you deposit at a bank. You'll still have to deal with the usual delays if your bank holds funds for a day or two. Some banks hold funds longer after a mobile deposit, but at this point, most of the most popular banks follow the standard regulations that you're already used to.
Banks have faced pretty rare instances of fraud where, because you can keep the check after you've deposited it, people have tried to deposit it again. In some of those instances, a different person deposited the check, causing the bank to remove the money from the legitimate depositor's account. But banks have generally solved these problems. One recommendation is to sign the check with "for mobile deposit only," to reduce the chances of this happening.
Santander's website suggests that you write "Deposited" and the date on your check after you've sent pictures of it as added precaution. They also advise that you keep it for two weeks for reference and then destroy it. Shredding is a safe way to prevent a lucky snooper from getting any ideas, and it's also a great stress-reliever! (Side recommendation: shred everything if you have the opportunity! It's just fun).
Mobile device security is higher than ever, so a secure connection to your bank is not something to worry about. They store the images on their end, anyway, so losing your phone or falling victim to a hack won't make any of your deposits vulnerable.
Every bank has its own suggestions for mobile deposit. If you follow their guidelines and use the same precautions you always have, the process should be smooth and as stunningly simple as it is on paper. So go ahead, cash that check with your phone. Just make sure you're on your bank's app and not Snapchat when you take the pictures.