Hmm. Do you feel iffy about depositing cash into the ATM?

I was reading Madame X’s post on how she felt a momentary worry in depositing a large sum of check into the ATM machine, which I understand completely—because I’ve had a few moments of “what if” myself too.

But depositing a check is different from depositing cash into the ATM, although I believe most institutions allow you to deposit cash into the ATM. I do deposit cash at my local credit union and Bank of America, but only for small amounts. If it approaches a few hundred, I head into the branch and deposit it via the teller. In fact, I do the same thing for large amounts even if they’re in the form of a check, just because I’m paranoid.

You see, years ago I worked at Bank of America as a proof operator in the operations department. We basically check & balance deposits and we handle lots (and lots) of checks from ATM deposits. Before being closed down (and laid off) due to the decrease in check deposits (heh, people don’t write checks anymore), I worked at the Brea location, which handles all the Bank of America deposit for Orange County (and that’s quite a bit, you wouldn’t believe how many people use checks at Disneyland).

Next door to our department is the Cash Vault department, which handles the cash deposits from the ATM. The large processing room is like a germs-free lab, very hardcore. There’s cameras everywhere, and you’re required to wear this funky apron-like jacket without pockets while you work. You’re restricted from wearing clothing w/ pockets. There’s also a double security door into the processing department, and besides all the security, there are even more rules and regulation.

Our proof department, which is completely opposite in work environment, always makes fun of the people in the cash department for their funky attire (in fact, I went to work in my pajamas once). Anyway I’m getting carried away with the storytelling…

My point is, with all these security, precaution, screening of employee, rules and regulation—mistakes do happen. People are not perfect. While it’s less of a chance that someone will steal your money in the cash vault department than at the local branch, it DOES happen. Urban myth of deposited cash stolen from ATM? Think again.

A cash vault employee at the Los Angeles department (a HUGE department) once stole quite a large sum of money, slowly taking away small amounts here and there. They eventually found out and caught on to him. What happened? Cops arrived, hand cuffed the guy right at work, amongst hundreds of co-workers and took him away.

And then there’s always the usual non-criminal errors. Batches of deposits gets misplace, clerical error, encoding error, etc. etc. They paid us in processing speed and accuracy, there’s also large bonus incentives for accuracies—but mistakes happen regardless. Once, in our proof department, we found a bag of unprocessed checks & deposits hidden away behind a storage shelf. Upon opening the bag, we discovered it was from back in 1991. Yikes.

The mistakes are always reversible (unfortunately at the inconvenience of customers), so this isn’t some ‘horror’ story about don’t deposit checks or cash into ATM—just sharing a perspective from the guys behind the ATM machines.

Still, although I’ve had first (or second) hand account of what goes on when you deposit cash into the ATM, I’m still paranoid about depositing large amounts of cash into the ATM.

I guess I’ve had my share of urban myth: a friend’s cousin’s aunt supposedly deposited $1,000 in cash into a Bank of America’s ATM, but the deposit never showed and the complaints disappeared into an abyss of red tape.

Related Post: