The 12 Most Common Direct Deposit Errors (And How To Avoid Them)

Addressing these mistakes will ensure you are paid on time, every time.

remote check deposit taking photo
Updated July 11, 2024
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More than nine in 10 American workers receive their paycheck via direct deposit, according to the American Payroll Association. And it’s no wonder: Direct deposit is convenient and efficient.

Except when there are problems. In some cases, employees make mistakes that delay payment.

If you want to boost your bank account by ensuring you get paid, check out some of the most common mistakes workers make with direct deposit — and how to avoid them.

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Giving your employer the wrong bank account number

ifeelstock/Adobe man typing pin code in ATM

As you might expect, this is one of the easiest and most common errors a worker can make when setting up direct deposit.

Double-check that your account number is accurate before you submit the number to your payroll department. Remember, it’s hard to build up your savings if your paycheck is not going to the right place.

Using the wrong routing number

burdun/Adobe man taking photo of cheque

Each bank has a unique nine-digit routing number that helps the Automated Clearing House (ACH) network make sure your paycheck goes to the right place. Your routing number will be on the bottom of your checks.

You can also look up this number online. Note that some banks have multiple routing numbers, so it is essential to use the one associated with your account.

Accidentally giving your employer the wrong account

Thirawatana/Adobe using mobile phone to scan

According to a Mercator Group Advisory report, the average American has around five bank accounts. So, you may accidentally give the wrong account number to your employer.

For instance, you may give them the number for your savings or money market account instead of your checking account. If you make this mistake, contact your human resources department to fix it.

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Messing up your Social Security number

gguy/Adobe social security card in usa

Many of us have our Social Security numbers memorized. But if you haven’t used yours in a while, double-check that you’ve given your employer the correct number and that they have entered it correctly.

Not verifying micro-deposit amounts

Andrey Popov/Adobe remote check deposit

Your employer may make a few micro-deposits of less than $1 to ensure they're depositing to the correct account.

You typically must verify the amount and timing of these micro-deposits to verify your account. Failing to do so promptly could delay your first direct deposit payment.

Not opting for early direct deposit

Andrey Popov/Adobe remote check deposit photo

By opting for early direct deposit, your employer may deposit your check a few days early, giving you quicker access to your cash.

Avoid missed and late payments by getting your check early.

Not checking your pay stubs

RTimages/Adobe Payslip

It can be tempting just to leave your direct deposit on autopilot and assume everything is working fine. But it’s worth your while to check your pay stub occasionally to ensure nothing is amiss.

Make sure your employer is taking out the appropriate amount of taxes, 401(k) contributions, and other withholdings so that there are no surprises at the end of the year.

Not checking your account to confirm payment

Andrey Popov/Adobe using online bank account

Just because your direct deposit tends to come in on a certain day of the week or month doesn’t mean it will with every paycheck.

Internal bank issues, technical glitches, holidays, and other factors can delay payments. So, don’t assume you have money in your account. Instead, always verify that your payment is where it should be.

Even if you are just stashing away all your directly deposited cash with no intention to spend it anytime soon, check often to make sure the money is arriving as expected.

Not getting your employer to submit a reversal within 5 days

ipopba/Adobe businessman using mobile smartphone with data information banking

If you or the employer messed up your direct deposit and sent the money to an account that wasn’t yours, it is possible to initiate a reversal.

However, the ACH system only allows a short window for doing so — five days after the settlement date of the original transaction, according to Baron Payroll. If you haven’t gotten your paycheck as expected, let your employer know as soon as possible.

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Forgetting to give your employer new info

Kittiphan/Adobe couple checking bills taxes

When personal information changes — whether you've switched banks, moved, or changed your name — let your employer know as soon as possible.

Updating your information promptly helps ensure there is no lapse in your pay.

Using a fintech app to receive direct deposits

Tada Images/Adobe assorted apps for payment

It’s possible to receive direct deposit payments in a fintech app such as Venmo or Cash App, and this works well for many people.

However, these apps might have less robust customer service if something goes wrong. So, you might want to think twice about using this method.

Using a prepaid debit card

ArLawKa/Adobe shopping ideas with credit card

Some prepaid debit cards allow direct deposits. However, these might not be FDIC-insured unless you register them.

Prepaid debit cards also often have monthly fees. So, using a no-fee checking account can be preferable.

Bottom line

Antwon McMullen/Adobe smartphone bank direct deposit

Setting up direct deposit is usually a simple process, but it’s not immune to human errors. It’s important to avoid potential pitfalls that can delay your payment.

Most of the time, you can sidestep any snafus by double-checking all your account numbers and using one of the best checking accounts to receive your funds.

Staying on top of direct deposit will help you get the pay you deserve so you can create a brighter financial future.

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Author Details

Jenni Sisson

Jenni Sisson is a freelance writer and editor who focuses on personal finance, real estate, and entrepreneurship. She has been published in Business Insider and The Ways to Wealth. In addition to writing, Jenni hosts the Mama's Money Map podcast to help fellow stay-at-home moms on their journey to financial freedom.