According to dear daughter I’m a world class know-it-all, but every once in a while it’s brought home to me that I don’t actually know everything. So this is another chapter in the ongoing saga entitled, I Make All the Mistakes So You Don’t Have To. Herewith we have a cautionary tale about online banking.
Despite my advocacy for keeping on top of your finances, I must admit that I’m somewhat lazy about balancing my check book. Downloading statements has really nudged me up a notch on this, even though my bank has a somewhat cumbersome process on this—sometimes the magic works and sometimes it doesn’t. By that I mean sometimes Quicken will auto-download, and sometimes I need to go to the bank’s website and do it manually. I do manage to get to this, um, almost every month.
I have found, however, that occasionally there are transactions missing and I’ve been lulled into complacency since most of them tend to appear in the next month. But ugh, I’ve just had a major glitch.
Usually, I use mobile deposit for the checks clients write to me. These are occasionally rejected, because either I’ve tried to deposit too much money or I’ve exceeded the check limit for the time periods. It’s a nice problem to have, and a good excuse to walk the dog over to the bank, which she thinks is the biscuit store.
On those rare occasions when I actually get to the health club, I’ve used the drive-up window. One time a very large check did not appear in my account after the drive-up, and I noticed it immediately and it was found (it had been mis-deposited into someone else’s account!).
However, the computerized reconcile that I use for the business books had been carrying 4 relatively smaller deposits from month to month. The reconciling does get a bit off from time to time (double entered, missed a withdrawal, etc.) and I pretty much just ignored it until I started worrying about getting ahead of the end-of-year tiding up. So, I finally decided to compare these with the paper statement.
I still get the paper statements (although I’ll probably switch to the PDFs next year), because that’s where I’ve been able to identify the few transactions each year that don’t download. To my shock, these four deposits, all made on the same day, have never showed up. In re-contacting all the people who wrote the original checks, each reported that the checks were never cashed, and have graciously re-issued them. But I can’t take it up with the bank, because I don’t usually keep deposit receipts in a feeble effort to maintain a clean car.
What I’ve learned:
- Keep your deposit receipts until you get your monthly statement, or at least until the deposit shows up online in your account.
- If you use computer download/reconcile (does anyone still do it by hand?) be sure you double check anything that is still carrying over after you check deposits and payments. Anything that doesn’t check off should be verified with the bank.
- Within a day or two after in-person, automatic, or mobile deposits, make sure they show in your online statement. Even robots make mistakes. Eyeball your paper or PDF statements that everything is there as it should be.
So, even though I embrace online banking, I’m still a little reluctant to eliminate paper statements. I find it’s much easier to ignore online and electronic information. True, the paper piles up into a mound near my desk, but at some point I can’t ignore it, and it does provide a follow-up trail. Make sure you have back-stops and double-checks in place before you go 100% virtual.