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Ask Dr. Don

When a bank loses a deposit

Dear Dr. Don,
My bank lost a deposit that I had made with a branch teller. I have the deposit receipt, and the bank admits to losing the deposit, but so far has refused to make good on the funds in question. The amount is $350.

They claim they need time to "research" the loss, and have not even committed to reimbursing me at some later date. I am very frustrated with this situation, and I am astounded that a procedure does not exist to promptly resolve such an error. What legal recourse do I have against the bank if they continue to delay resolving this problem?

The deposit was a rent check from a tenant. The tenant says that since they have a paid receipt from me, they have no further responsibility in this matter.
Jon Journal

Dear Jon,
The bank's request for time to research the loss isn't unreasonable, but by now they've used up their research time and should provide you with an explanation. It's possible that your bank collected the funds and lost track of which account should be credited with the deposit. If that's the case, the check has cleared your tenant's account.

You shouldn't depend on your tenant or me for legal advice. However, the tenant's responsibility for paying rent doesn't end with a receipt marked paid from you. For example, if the tenant's check bounced, they would still owe you the rent even though they have a receipt.

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All three parties have a vested interest in finding out what happened to this check. Your tenant can help by researching whether the check cleared his account, and, if it has cleared, by requesting a copy of the canceled check.

If the check has cleared, the bank can stop researching the issue and credit your account for the deposit. If it hasn't cleared yet, you can ask the tenant to stop payment on the check, reimburse the tenant for the stop payment charge, and ask the tenant to issue you a new check.

If none of this works, your financial institution is a federal savings bank and is regulated by the Office of Thrift Supervision. You can file a consumer complaint with that office.

-- Posted: June 28, 2002

Read more Dr. Don columns
See Also
7 ways to avoid a bounced check
Bad check fees: He messes up, you pay
Financial advice glossary
More Dr. Don stories

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