December 15, 2006, Newsletter Issue #43: Consumer Responsibilities

Tip of the Week

As a consumer, you are obligated to recognize substitute checks drawn on your account as just as legally binding as the original written paper check. Strictly speaking, other than that there are no specific obligations on the part of the consumer. There are, however, a few things you're probably going to want to do to make sure you don't bounce checks or lose money to bank errors.

Since checks drawn on your account are going to clear much more quickly, you need to make sure you have the money in the account before you write a check. Second, you're going to want to review your bank statements as soon as you get them. No more stuffing in the file cabinet unopened. Why? Because even though financial institutions claim that Check 21 processing efficiencies will reduce the number of errors (you should learn about Check 21 if you're not already familiar with it), mistakes still happen. If a substitute check is withdrawn from your account twice, or if the amount of the check is more than it should have been, you only have 40 days to request a recredit of the amount in error. After that, you're out of luck.

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