ATM cash deposit dispute
March 4, 2008 1:16 PM   Subscribe

Deposited cash at my bank's ATM. Bank says I didn't. I filed a dispute. Is there any hope that it will be resolved in my favor, or is it my word against theirs?

I deposited 31 checks, plus $120 cash, at my bank's ATM. My receipt, which I have, shows the correct deposit amount (obviously) and at the same time debited the account $150 due to "incorrect deposit amount."

If they'd adjusted it by $120, I'd be less hopeful, but I have photocopies of all the checks I deposited, so I can "prove," after a fashion, that I deposited X amount in checks. (Of course they can also say that my photocopies mean nothing, I guess). No checks were for $30 or any combination that could equal $30, so if my copied checks mean anything, I'm probably going to get the $30 back. I'm just wondering about the $120 -- what possible reason do they have to believe the customer put the amount of cash in the envelope that he says he did?

Would welcome thoughts from anyone who knows anything about banks' handling of such disputes.
posted by luser to Work & Money (18 answers total)
Might you be on security-cam videotape, standing in front of the ATM, putting bills into an envelope?
posted by LobsterMitten at 1:26 PM on March 4, 2008

If you want to rely on that, you better do so really soon, because those video tapes don't get kept for very long.
posted by Class Goat at 1:31 PM on March 4, 2008

After working in retail banking for 6+ years, the answer I can give is this: it depends on your banking relationship and the amount in question. If you have been a customer in good standing, and have never filed a claim like this before, they will usually give you the benefit of the doubt and credit you. This however is speaking from the experience of a large, national institution. They will obtain copies of all of the checks recorded in the deposit to note all components of the deposit and will likely take several days or weeks to research the dispute. If you are a good customer of theirs (rarely have overdrafts, relationship of several years) they should credit you the missing amount.

If they do not, its time to switch to another bank/credit union.
posted by Asherah at 1:47 PM on March 4, 2008

Maybe the 150 isn't an incorrect deposit of the cash. Could it be something incorrect in a check or 2, maybe one's that aren't signed or dated properly?
posted by dness2 at 1:50 PM on March 4, 2008

so you deposited 120$ in cash, plus $X in checks. did any deposit amount show up in your account, or just the $150 debit? i'm kind of confused by your description.

it is good that you have the checks and your receipt. i mean, the receipt should be enough, but clearly it's not.
posted by misanthropicsarah at 1:54 PM on March 4, 2008

All I know is that the fear of this type of mistake happening is why I never deposit money via ATM. Once during a withdrawal, the ATM failed to dispense any money although it thought it did and spit out a receipt showing the withdrawal. I promptly visited my credit union and they took my word for it and gave me the $20. I would expect that your bank will take your word for it as well. If not, I would switch banks.
posted by daser at 1:57 PM on March 4, 2008

I had something like that happen almost 20 years ago. After a few days the bank "found" my deposit and credited my account appropriately. The 800# for the bank is worthless. Talk to a person like the branch manager in the branch. Unless you've given the bank a reason not to trust you like entering the wrong amount in past deposits (or probably bounce a fair number of checks), they should take your side. The numbers have to match up. If an employee stole the cash from your deposit envelope and you complain, they will look into it.

If they don't solve the issue, get another bank.
posted by birdherder at 2:09 PM on March 4, 2008

Might you be on security-cam videotape, standing in front of the ATM, putting bills into an envelope?

Most cameras are either placed improperly to get an uninterrupted shot of the envelope being put into the slot, take footage that is way too grainy, or both.

Or is this one of those ATMs that you just feed individual paper items into?
posted by oaf at 2:10 PM on March 4, 2008

I never deposit at an ATM. However, you should be fine. In addition to your photocopied checks there is also an audit for the machine. Sometimes it takes time for them to catch up, but you should press them on this. Also, what Asherah said. If you are a customer in good standing, for this amount of money, and to keep you as a customer, it is probably easier, and even cheaper, to just give you the benefit of the doubt. It will cost them more than $150 to dispute this.
posted by caddis at 2:15 PM on March 4, 2008

This happened to me once when I was depositing only cash, and I fought it until they finally corrected it, but they did make sure I knew they saw me as a liar first. Whatever. I counted that cash, and I know I was right. I won't ever deposit cash into an ATM again, though. Who knows, maybe the person processing the deposits took some of the cash.
posted by loiseau at 2:24 PM on March 4, 2008

The $30 discrepancy may be a penalty/fee for putting the "incorrect" deposit amount on your deposit slip. Your account may have been debited $150 = the "missing" $120 cash + $30 fee.
posted by drew3d at 2:25 PM on March 4, 2008

Man, if they charge you $30 for putting the wrong amount down, you DEFINITELY need to switch banks.
posted by ORthey at 2:26 PM on March 4, 2008

I was a bank teller during college and you wouldn't believe the shenanigans some people try to pull. People will put completely empty envelopes in the ATM and key in that they are depositing cash, then get all pissed because the bank doesn't credit their account for the nonexistent money they attempted to deposit. These are usually people who opened their accounts within six months and never have a balance above $100. Like it was said above, if you are a customer in good standing at your bank, they will take your word for it and fix their mistake, because you obviously deposited cash.

Bottom line...NEVER deposit cash in an ATM. ATMs are made for getting quick cash out, not for trusting it with a transaction that should be made face to face with a teller.
posted by LightMayo at 3:01 PM on March 4, 2008 [1 favorite]

I had a problem like this once--deposited a check and withdrew $40 or so, and the ATM just gave me the receipt showing the $40 withdrawal but didn't give me any cash. I called the bank right away, feeling sure that I would have problems because I had essentially no proof, but fortunately they credited me back right away. It probably helped that it was a small amount, and also that I had a large direct deposit coming in regularly.

The newer ATMs I'm seeing these days do OCR immediately on both cash and checks (you don't even enter the amount on the checks by hand). I wouldn't have any problem depositing cash at one of those.
posted by dixie flatline at 3:15 PM on March 4, 2008

I don't know how long ago this was, but I just finished a book which indicates that most banks (please correct me if anyone has better inside knowledge) flip their security videos over every 72 hours, so unless this happened less than three days ago, I don't think you could get the video proof.
posted by misha at 3:52 PM on March 4, 2008

I recently had this happen, and because I wrote on the deposit envelope the cash and check amounts (so I could add them), they believed it and gave me my money. Otherwise, I'm sure I would have been out of luck.

I have also vowed never to deposit cash at an ATM ever again.
posted by genefinder at 4:49 PM on March 4, 2008

I was told by a teller that it is safer to deposit money in an ATM than to hand it to a teller. Her reasoning was that the ATM deposits were verified by two people, whereas if the one teller you are dealing with is stealing it would be harder to prove as it becomes your word against theirs.

I also was shorted on a withdrawal at an ATM and had no problem with the bank fixing it. It would be easy for them to balance the amount of cash paid out, cash deposited and the remaining cash. They must do that daily - hopefully the dispute investigation will show that they owe you the missing money.
posted by nelvana at 6:34 PM on March 4, 2008

I do my banking online, and clicking the link to query a check brings up (among other things) a scanned image of the cheque that they received.

You've got your photocopies, I think it would be quite reasonable to expect them to be able to provide you with photocopies (or similar scans) that back their story if they seem to be giving you the brushoff. If they can't provide evidence of this sort, while you can, you've got something to take to an ombudsman, or whatever the process is.

But from reading above, hopefully it won't even come close to that.
posted by -harlequin- at 7:51 PM on March 4, 2008

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