AdSense Blog Reveals Odd Banking Policy

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An otherwise mild write-up of how Google sends checks to AdSense publishers for their earnings has a strange twist that hints at a relationship with Citibank that defies common banking practices.

AdSense Blog Reveals Odd Banking Policy
AdSense Blog Reveals Odd Banking Policy

Though it has been nearly 20 years since my first real post-college job as a bank teller, I’m pretty surprised to learn just what has changed over that time.

Google’s Vineesha Malkani posted at the AdSense blog some routine advice about AdSense. It almost sounds oriented toward international AdSense publishers, and I’d accept it as that were it not for a strange incident that happened in the US.

Back in July, Mobilejones blogger Debi Jones experienced some unpleasantness in getting some issues with her AdSense account sorted out. It took the intervention of Matt Cutts to get Jones her AdSense check.

But when she traveled to the bank to cash the check, she was told it could not be cashed due to insufficient funds. That statement by the bank sounded strange at the time, as Google certainly employs an accounting department. Why would Google not have enough funds to cash Jones’ AdSense check? It didn’t make sense.

It now sounds like the bank gave Jones incorrect information, based on Malkani’s line in the AdSense blog post about checks and AdSense:

Checks from AdSense are for deposit only; they are not able to be cashed.

  A valid check has some common features: routing and accounting numbers, a bank transit number, and a payee line with the text "Pay to the order of" at the start. These have been in place for years, as any checkbook owner can see.

If a customer comes into a branch with a check drawn on a customer account (this used to be called an ‘on-us check’), the check can be cashed if funds are available. Banks usually require an ID like a driver’s license, while some go farther and ask for thumbprints and even fees to cash an on-us check for a non-account holder.

Google simply cannot tell someone they can’t cash a valid check drawn on their account at Citibank. It sounds more like Google, certainly a large account holder, secured an agreement with Citibank not to honor a check at the teller line.

The insufficient funds line always sounded like bull droppings, and with this latest post from Google I’m convinced. We can’t wait to see the spin on this story.

AdSense Blog Reveals Odd Banking Policy
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  • T Miller

    Forgive me for writing off the top of my head but wouldn’t cha think that if you want to insure “Deposit only” you might try that there newfangled thing called “direct deposit”? Is Google incapable of this mystical technological money transfer? I am not a real deep “techie” but even I haven’t written a paper check since 1998.

    • David A. Utter

      Who knows how much money it would cost Google in lost interest if their AdSense payments were made electronically rather than by a check in the mail? At a high enough balance month after month, I’d imagine even a three-day float from mail to deposit would be worth a tidy sum.

  • Mark

    For U.S. checks, if the phrase, “For deposit only” is printed above the endorsement, the check cannot be cashed. You can write it in by hand, for instance if you are sending a check by mail to your bank’s bank-by-mail address; you can rubber stamp it; or the issuer of the check can preprint it in the endorsement area.

    The purpose of this is to ensure that there is a traceable bank account associated with the conversion of the check to minimize fraud.

    • David A. Utter

      Yes, but evidently the check sent to Jones did not have that on it. I imagine there would be a lot more said about those checks by other publishers if Google were placing conditional endorsements on them.

      As far as fraud prevention goes, that’s why banks require ID and sometimes additional measures like a thumbprint when cashing a check for a non-customer.

  • http://mobilejones.com mobilejones

    Hi David, I explained this point in comments and the follow on posts after the bad check story.

    The check I received from Google was not a standard Adsense check. It was out of cycle and drawn on Wells Fargo not Citibank.

    In addition, I was able to cash the check at the teller window, in the end. I’m not sure I’ll ever understand exactly what the true nature of the problem was with the check, but once Adsense support was circumvented by Matt Cutts’ attention, they made good on the payment.

    • David A. Utter

      Interesting. Thank you Debi.

  • Bob

    I can’t comment on the NSF claim by the bank, however, it is the policy of all the banks I’m aware of that if you deposit a check into a business account they will not give cash back. This is because the person making the deposit may not have authorization to get money out. Many large companies have several people make bank deposits but none of them have the right to get anything out. In my own business account I can’t get cash from a deposit. I have to make the deposit and then use either the ATM, or write a check to my personal account.

    Also, if your own account only had $500.00 and the deposit was for $5,000.00 and the bank never had dealt with that company before they may hold it until it clears because your account was too low to cover the funds, not the one issuing the check.

    • http://adsense-primer.blogspot.com Rajeev Edmonds

      Well, I think the deposit only checks are made so that only the right person is able to draw the hard money from his/her bank account otherwise it is a possibility that anyone can get it cashed in the name of some other person.

  • http://www.subeler.com/ Bankalar

    The purpose of this is to ensure that there is a traceable bank account associated with the conversion of the check to minimize fraud.

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