February 24, 2006, Newsletter Issue #5: Preventing Bounced Checks

Tip of the Week

Under the provisions of the Check 21 law, any check you write is going to clear your account much more quickly than it would have in the past. In fact, some checks will clear almost instantaneously, much like a debt card transaction does. If you've been practicing good checking account habits all along, you should be all set. However, if you're one of those who subscribe to the philosophy that you can't be out of money because there are still checks left in your checkbook, you could be in trouble. If you haven't already done so, balance your most recent checking statement. Make sure you record all ATM and debit card transactions. Once you've done that, keep a current running balance in your check register so you know your balance at all times. Finally, don't write any checks unless the money is already in the account to cover the full amount. Otherwise, you are going to bounce checks. At the very least, you'll get slapped with high fees. At the worst, your check bouncing history will be reported by merchants to check verification systems such as ChexSystems, and stores will no longer accept your checks.

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