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Mobile Apps Make Depositing Checks a Snap

 Mobile Apps Make Depositing Checks a Snap

As routine financial tasks move online, you may have fallen out of the habit of banking at a branch office. If
so, receiving a paper check can be a hassle, requiring a special trip just to deposit it.

Thankfully, mobile depositing is now widely offered by banks and credit unions, allowing you to put that
refund from the cable company or birthday check from your uncle into your account without having to go to a
branch.

How it works

Financial institutions that offer remote depositing generally do so through smartphone apps. Although the
procedure can vary, in most cases you start by endorsing the back of the check, the same way you would if you
were depositing it with a teller or at an ATM. The app prompts you to snap photos of both the front and back
of the check and send them through the phone to your account provider.

If you have multiple accounts at the same institution, you'll need to select the one you want to receive the
money. Most of the time, you'll be asked to enter the amount you're putting in. The app usually has software
designed to read important information from the photos, such as account and routing numbers and the amount
of the check. But having you punch in the dollar figure reduces the chance of a software error that accidentally
moves $20 into your account when the check was for $200, for example.

Is it risky?

Ideally, the same privacy and security safeguards are in place whether you're conducting a transaction online
with your computer or logging in with a mobile app. Depositing a check by phone is no different. Financial
institutions are refining and improving online security practices all the time, and their customer service
departments can answer questions if you're concerned.

You can decrease your risk of having your personal financial data stolen by changing your passwords
frequently, using an authentication code on any mobile device you use to access your financial accounts, and
avoiding using unsecured Wi-Fi networks at cafes, hotels and other public places.

What's the downside?

If the camera on your phone isn't of good quality, it may be hard to take a clear enough picture. To improve
your chances, lay the check on a flat surface like a table, and make sure it's well-lit. Some apps require the
image to include all four corners of the check, so make sure you're not cutting off part of it when you take the
photo. To be safe, allow a small margin around it.

In many cases, there are restrictions placed on money deposited by mobile app. Some financial institutions
limit the total dollar amount you can put in this way each month, or won't accept individual checks over a
certain amount. Sometimes, these limits are lower if you're a new customer, and you're allowed greater
freedom to deposit checks with the mobile app after you've had your account for a while.

Although paper checks are becoming less common, you may still receive them from time to time. Having the
option to deposit them with your smartphone eliminates a lot of the associated inconvenience. This will only
be more true as the technology improves.

© Copyright 2016 NerdWallet, Inc. All Rights Reserved

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