Is this legit, or should I have a fit?
July 13, 2010 8:25 PM   Subscribe

Should I be worried? I just checked my RBC account online and saw this pending: BANK OF AMERICA TRIALCREDT and the amount pending deposit was 1 cent.

We are waiting for my husband's boss to direct deposit some funds into our account (he is working with a new company) and I don't know what bank he is using. But this just seems really really sketchy. Plus my googling didn't make me feel any better. Any of y'all got any ideas? And what should I do?

For what it's worth the boss is out of the country right now and is handling his transactions from the Middle East.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies to Work & Money (15 answers total)
Best answer: This sounds okay. They may have sent some tiny amount along as a way of making sure the two bank accounts are somehow mated and then when that's affirmed, will transfer the rest of the amount. When I got a new bank account recently and linked it up with my old bank, they did something very much like this.
posted by jessamyn at 8:27 PM on July 13, 2010 [1 favorite]

Often, when you open an online savings account and link it to your checking account, they'll make a withdrawal for a random number $0.01 to $0.99 for you to verify that you own the checking account that is being drawn. This might be along similar lines. Instead of depositing the whole check, they're doing a trial deposit to make sure the routing number was correctly entered.
posted by ifandonlyif at 8:30 PM on July 13, 2010

Response by poster: Well, there, then! If anyone else has anything to throw in here please do, but I feel better now.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 8:30 PM on July 13, 2010

BoA doesn't appear to do "trial withdrawals", taking out the few cents it put in for its trial deposit; some banks do. (I've seen HSBC take out the pennies it put into an account.)
posted by holgate at 8:35 PM on July 13, 2010

This is sometimes called a penny test.
posted by Pants! at 8:42 PM on July 13, 2010

Paypal did what may be a similar thing when my email was hacked and I was locked out of my own Paypal account.

After unsuccessfully trying to re-establish my identity online, Paypal made a deposit of (I think) $2 into my Paypal-linked bank account. I had to check my bank statement and get the number they put in the reference field, and then go to Paypal's site and enter that number as verification that I was the person who belonged to that bank account.

I understand that your situation is different but if Paypal does it for security measures, then I wonder if it's becoming more common for businesses to do this itty-bitty deposit thing as a sort of preliminary check that they have the right account number.
posted by malibustacey9999 at 8:43 PM on July 13, 2010

PayPal does this when you open account and when you need to re-verify an account. I've also had this done for similar services. Call BoA and ask, but this is not unprecedented
posted by GilloD at 8:50 PM on July 13, 2010

I don't think this is anything to worry about. When a family member linked his BoA account to my Wells Fargo account, it did two "test deposits" of $.20-40 cents each. I then had to tell him what the amounts were, which he verified with the bank, and now we can easily transfer money. ING did the same thing when I set it up to link with my checking account.

However, the penny thing does seem a bit weird, since most of the time, these transactions will be at least $.20. But maybe it's different with a corp/business account?
posted by lunasol at 8:50 PM on July 13, 2010

A Google search for that phrase pulls up this example, which seems to be legit.
posted by limeonaire at 9:20 PM on July 13, 2010

Yep, in banking we refer to these as microdeposits and they're used as everyone has mentioned. On the one hand, this term might help someone google this next time. On the other hand, you'll also get hits talking about microdeposit fraud, where someone with the right kind of nefarious access will make a nice pile of money 51 cents at a time. "Office Space", anyone?
posted by ersatzkat at 4:28 AM on July 14, 2010

Pennytel does this kind of thing when verifying a new credit card, except that instead of asking you for a reference number they ask you for the exact amount they transferred (could be up to $2, if I recall correctly).
posted by flabdablet at 4:29 AM on July 14, 2010

Yes, this seems OK, given that you're expecting a transfer of funds from a new source. I have an online savings account that did two separate tiny deposits (and then required validation on my part) when I linked to my checking account for transfers. IANABanker.
posted by usonian at 4:32 AM on July 14, 2010

In my experience, none of my employers have ever had to go through the trial deposit test before being allowed to directly deposit into my bank account. The only time I have ever had to go through the trial deposit test myself was when I was establishing a link that would allow me to make both deposits to and withdrawals from the remote account. So, you should at least be aware that your husband's boss may ultimately have the ability to withdraw from your account as well as deposit into it.
posted by Nothlit at 7:05 AM on July 14, 2010

Call 1-800-ROYAL-1-1 and ask them. (1 800 769 2511) That's a 24/7 number.
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 7:18 AM on July 14, 2010

What Nothlit said. I work as a fraud investigator and have to mention that I've seen many scams where the "employer" recruited an "employee" to receive funds via a fraudulent bank-to-bank transfer and then send them out of the country by Western Union or wire transfer. I would be very cautious about any request to return funds if they "accidentally" sent too much, or any request to send money to a third party.
posted by Hlewagast at 11:12 AM on July 14, 2010

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