Friday, June 25, 2004

Putting cash into an ATM

I've heard that it's a bad idea to put cash into an ATM. The reasoning is that a bank employee could take the cash from the envelope. Then the bank claims that you made an error during the deposit, and you become a victim of theft.

This morning I called my bank to ask about this. The answers I got were good answers, but I couldn't tell how seriously the question was considered. It sounded more like an answer from faith, an answer given to make the customer feel better.

I presented the scenario, and the first response was, "that has never happened" (emphasis theirs).

I said, "I believe that," but what keeps it from happening? What if there is a discrepancy between the number I enter at the ATM and the value counted by the bank? They said I wouldn't lose anything. My account would be credited the full amount. Also, the employee would be terminated.

That's reassuring also, but I pressed on. How do you tell the difference between employee theft and a customer who enters the wrong amount at the ATM? Can you distinguish fraud and error? They said that everything is monitored. The ATMs are monitored and the employees who empty the ATM's envelopes are under surveillance at all times.

That's what I thought before I made the call. I thanked them for their time.

Afterward I wondered how long the surveillance tapes are kept, and what the resolution is on them. Can someone watching the recording distinguish a $20 bill and a $10 bill? I don't know, but I'm not too worried about it. As my bank's representatives said, if it's a concern, go to a live teller.
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