December 19, 2018 8:24 pm

Calgary business owner calls for freeze of mobile cheque deposits

WATCH: A Calgary business owner says Canada's mobile chequing system isn't working and is calling for it to be frozen until it's more secure. Tomasia DaSilva reports.

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A convenient way to deposit cheques is being criticized by a Calgary business owner who said she was scammed out of hundreds of dollars.

Renee Schmidt-Sauer runs a landscaping business, The Yard Barber, with her husband. Her employees are mostly seasonal, so she pays them by cheque.

That became a problem when a couple of them deposited their cheques twice — once by phone, once at the bank.

“I noticed that a cheque went through twice,” Schmidt-Sauer said.

READ MORE: ‘Open banking’ holds promise but cybersecurity fears loom for Canadian banks

Canada’s Ombudsman for Banking Services and Investments (OBSI) said deposit duplication is relatively rare but can happen.

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Ombudsman Sarah Bradley said when these multiple deposits happen — sometimes by accident, other times intentionally — the banks have systems in place to catch them, however, no technological system is perfect.

“Mistakes can happen and multiple deposits can slip through the cracks,” Bradley said.

Consumers have about 30 days to report a transaction error to most banks. If that error is reported in time, the banks will almost always reverse the cheques.

The Canadian Bankers Association (CBA) told Global News there are cases were people will deposit a cheque through both mobile and traditional means, such as a branch or ATM.

The group said once a duplicate deposit is detected, the bank will hold the depositor accountable for the excess balance. It encourages clients to keep track of their accounts and contact their bank as soon as possible to get the matter resolved.

Schmidt-Sauer said she tried that, but because she only noticed one of the errors more than 30 days later, she was told there was nothing the bank could do. She then had to reach out and try to get the money from her former employee.

“They made me do the leg work,” she said. “I was like, ‘How is it my fault?'”

READ MORE: Latest Bank of Canada interest rate hike deals a blow to Alberta: experts

She eventually got all her money back from the employee and the bank, but Schmidt-Sauer said she is frustrated she had to go through this in the first place. She has called for mobile cheque deposits to be halted, at least until the system is foolproof.

“It’s just the principal of the thing,” Schmidt-Sauer said. “We’re out there working hard for our money, for our company and this just shouldn’t be happening.”

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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