In recent months, we’ve received a number of support requests for SmartSource check scanners in which users have reported “paper jams” or feeding issues that turned out to be something entirely different.

This particular problem presents as a scanner that won’t accept items into the feeder, instead displaying the error message “LE arrived too early at rear image camera, or occasionally “LE arrived too early at front image camera.” This is the same message that displays when there’s a problem with the feed mechanism: “LE” stands for “Leading Edge,” meaning that the scanner thinks there’s something already in the paper path, so it won’t try to feed another document.

SmartSource Pro Camera Glass

More often than not, repeated “paper jams” are a false alarm caused by accumulated dirt or ink on the camera that cause the scanner to stop. Simply cleaning the camera glass can solve this problem.

To the user who sees that message, it looks like the scanner is just “stuck” and won’t run. Often times, though, the root cause is that there’s ink smeared on the camera glass. That causes the scanner to think there’s something stuck in the track when there actually isn’t, and it won’t run.

The solution is a simple cleaning: Open the side access panel and gently wipe down the camera glass with an alcohol wipe, or if none is available, a tissue or a soft paper towel damp with Windex. Be careful not to use a coarse paper towel, as it can put tiny scratches into the camera glass. Also, always be sure to spray Windex onto the tissue or paper towel and NOT onto the glass directly – this is to prevent the liquid from leaking through the seams in the camera assembly and damaging the components behind.

Don’t feel bad if you’ve been stumped by this problem – even our own support team was caught off guard the first few times it happened. That’s because Digital Check’s TellerScan and CheXpress series scanners use a standalone sensor to check whether anything is currently in the paper path, while SmartSource models use the camera itself for that purpose. So, if too many pixels on the camera are covered up by dirt or ink, a CheXpress or TellerScan will scan the check and you’ll see streaks or lines on the image, whereas a SmartSource device registers it as an obstruction and won’t let you scan at all.

This issue obviously happens most frequently with Inkjet-enabled models of Smartsource scanners that print endorsements on the back of checks as they pass through. It’s also more common on the rear camera than on the front, since the rear of the check is where the printing’s done.

The best way to stop this problem before it happens is a bit of preventive maintenance: Clean the scanner regularly with official Digital Check-branded “waffle” cleaning cards, which are specially designed to clean the entire track with outward pressure, including the camera glass. And if you start to notice lines or streaks appearing across your check images, it’s probably time to open up the scanner and clean the camera glass directly before it turns into a full-blown problem.