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Saturday, February 2, 2013

1326. Bank deposit with my SmartPhone

My bank is offering an app that allows me to make check deposits with my smartphone.  How does this work? Is this safe?

Recently, Doug’s bank closed the local branch that happened to be situated right across the street from his PO box. (Of course, the mailbox service closed, too, but that’s another story.) It used to be really convenient to pick up checks at the PO box, and then walk across the street to deposit them directly into the bank. Now, he has to drive somewhere to deposit the checks, and that’s a pain.

We share the same bank, and recently noticed that our bank, like lots of others, was offering the option to deposit checks online, using the camera in our smart phones to snap a photo of the front and back of the check. Although our bank is a little late to the table with this option, we find that the smartphone app works perfectly. You snap a photo of both sides of the check, enter the amount, and the app whisks the information off to the bank with the check immediately deposited. You don’t need to send them the check: We just mark ours as “deposited” (so we don’t try to deposit them again) and file them away.

Always suckers for new technology, we’ve been trying this technique for several months, and it appears to work great. There are limits to the amount of money you can deposit monthly using the smartphone app, so as long as you’re aware of the limit, you’ll be set. The lighting also makes a difference, in terms of the success of taking the photos, so ensure you have plenty of lighting and no glare when you snap photos of the checks.

As with any online service, you need to be aggressively aware of your password and its ability to get stolen when using any online banking app. We suggest you set up a strong password (at least 12 characters, including numbers and symbols, and a mix of upper and lower-case letters) for your banking account. The smartphone app uses the strongest encryption it can, and it is itself safe, but your password is the weakest chain in the security link. Make sure you select one that’s unique to your bank (don’t use it anywhere else) and make sure it’s a strong password. (These suggestions have nothing to do with depositing checks via the app, but are all about online banking in general.)

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