How does Checká21 affect you?
of Checká21 and other check-system improvements, your checks may be
processed faster--which means money may be deducted from your checking
account faster. Before you write a check, make sure that your checking
account has enough money in it to cover the check.
be one of the majority of consumers who do not receive their canceled
checks with their account statements. Instead, you may receive
"pictures" (known as digital images) of your checks, a list of your
paid checks, or a combination of these items. Checká21 will have little
or no effect on these practices.
On the other hand, if you
do get your canceled checks back in your regular account statements,
you may notice some changes under Checká21. For example, your bank may
start sending you a combination of original checks and substitute
checks in your account statements. You may use a canceled substitute
check as proof of payment just as you would use a canceled original
The account agreement you have with your bank
governs whether you receive canceled checks with your account
statements. If you currently get canceled checks back with your
statements, you will continue to receive your checks unless your bank
notifies you that it is changing your account agreement.
may receive substitute checks in other limited circumstances. For
example, your bank may give you a substitute check if you ask to have a
particular canceled check back to prove a payment. Also, your bank
might provide a substitute check to you when returning a "bounced"
check that you deposited into your account.
By law, your
bank may not pay a check from your account unless you authorized that
payment. In other words, you are protected from having your bank pay
the same check from your account more than once or from having your
bank pay the wrong amount for a check. Checká21 does not change these
protections. However, Checká21 does give you special rights if you
receive a substitute check from your bank. This guide explains your
rights regarding substitute checks. For your rights in other
situations, contact your bank.
What is a substitute check?
substitute check is a special paper copy of the front and back of an
original check. The substitute check may be slightly larger than the
original check. Substitute checks are specially formatted so they can
be processed as if they were original checks. The front of a substitute
check should state: "This is a legal copy of your check. You can use it
the same way you would use the original check." The following sample
shows what a substitute check looks like:
Front of a substitute check
Back of a substitute check
Not all copies of a check are substitute checks. For example,
pictures of multiple checks printed on a page (also known as an image
statement) that is returned to you with your monthly statement are not
substitute checks. Online check images and photocopies of original
checks are not substitute checks either. You can use image statements
and other copies of checks to verify that your bank has paid a check.
Why do banks create
banks find that exchanging electronic images of checks with other banks
is faster and more efficient than physically transporting paper checks.
In certain circumstances, however, banks may need to use a paper check.
To address this need, Checká21 allows a bank to create and send a
substitute check that is made from an
electronic image of the original
Can I require my bank to return my original check?
In general, the law does not require your bank to return your original
check. Many banks destroy original paper checks. Other banks may store
original checks for some period of time and then destroy them. Checká21
ensures that you have the same legal protections when you receive a
substitute check from your bank as you do when you receive an original
What should I do if I receive a substitute
check and there is a problem?
provides a special process that allows you to claim a refund (also
known as an expedited recredit) when you receive a substitute check
from a bank and you think there is an error because of the substitute
check. For example, you may think that you were charged twice for the
You may use the special process to get a
refund of the money you lost. The amount of your refund under the
special process is limited to the amount of your loss or the amount of
the substitute check that you received, whichever is less, plus
interest on that amount if your account earns interest. If your loss is
more than the amount of the substitute check, you may have the right
under other laws to recover additional amounts of money.
your bank finds that your claim is valid, you should receive your
refund by the next business day after the bank's finding. Unless your
bank finds that your claim is not valid, you should receive up to
$2,500 of your refund (plus interest if your account earns interest)
within 10 business days after your bank receives your claim. You should
receive the rest of your refund (plus interest if your account earns
interest) no later than 45 days after your bank receives your claim. If
your bank finds that your claim is not valid, it will send you a notice
Your bank may reverse the refund (including
any interest on the refund) if it can show that the substitute check
did not cause an error in your account.
How do I file a claim under the special refund
procedure for substitute checks?
you notice a problem with a substitute check, you should contact your
bank as soon as possible. In general, to use the special refund
procedure for substitute checks, you should contact your bank no later
than 40 days from the date your bank provided the substitute check or
from the date of the statement that shows the problem.
In general, you must
Describe why you think the charge to your account is incorrect.
Describe why you believe the original check or a better version of the substitute
check is needed to determine whether the substitute check should have been deducted from
Estimate how much money you lost because of the substitute check. (Include any fees you
were charged as a result of the substitute check, as well as any interest you lost, if your
account earns interest.)
Provide a copy of the substitute check, or give your bank information that will help it identify
the substitute check and investigate your claim.
What if I have more questions about substitute checks?
Contact your bank. You may also contact your state's consumer protection agency or attorney general's office
for information on state laws that apply to checks and substitute checks.
Remember . . .
When a bank uses substitute checks, your checks may be processed faster.
Be sure you have enough money in your account to cover the checks that you write.
Always review your account statement to make sure the charges are correct.
If you receive something other than a substitute check, be aware of your rights to resolve
errors under other state and federal laws.
Contact your bank right away if you notice an error in your account.
For additional information, try these links:
When Is Your Check Not a Check
What You Should Know about Your Checks