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Banking experts warn of 'double deposits'

(Toledo News Now) -

When you write a check, you probably expect the money will only be debited from  your account once.

But as mobile banking and mobile check deposit take off, so do concerns about duplicate deposits.  That's when one check is deposited twice.

It all started with a phone call telling credit expert Gerri Detweiler a check she wrote to a charity was cashed twice.

The check was first deposited by the charity virtually using a remote deposit app.

The second time, an employee went to the bank and mistakenly deposited the same check, number 1027, again.

No banks caught the duplicate deposit, and the account was debited twice.

"I think most people would be shocked to learn that a check they write could be deposited twice," said Detweiler.

The American Bankers Association says a ‘double deposit' that results in a ‘double debit' from your account is rare because banks have robust detection systems.

"Generally if there's a duplicate deposit the check writer's bank will catch it, and the check writer never knows anything about it," said Nessa Feddis of the ABA.

If your bank doesn't catch a double debit, Feddis says it will refund your money and any fees.  Experts say you can help protect your account by

  • Having your bank alert you if your balance goes below a certain amount
  • Asking what they do to detect duplicate deposits
  • Logging on every day to check for errors

"Look at your balances, look at your transactions and communicate to the bank or the credit union if you see some suspicious activity or transactions you know you didn't make." Said Banking and Check Processing Expert Betsy Didan.

Can you get into trouble if you mistakenly double deposit a check?  Generally, no, if it's an honest error.

"(Banks) will be watching very carefully on the back end," said Didan.  "If they have any abuse to the system, they will actually shut down the application if they feel the consumer does not handle it appropriately."

If you do accidentally double deposit a check, once the bank finds out, the money from your second deposit will be deducted from your account.

If you don't have enough to cover the decuction and it appears you are knowingly committing fraud, that's when legal and other problems could start.

"If there's no money there, and the customer doesn't repay the amount the account would be closed and their name would go to a negative database so they'd have difficultly opening up a checking account elsewhere," said Feddis.

In Gerri's case, she didn't bounce any checks, and the charity reimbursed her for the double deposit.  Now she urges people to keep a close eye on their accounts.

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