Back to Main

Check 21: Consumer Protection

How am I protected under Check 21?

Check law protects you against erroneous and unauthorized check payments. In addition, Check 21 contains a number of new protections for consumers. For example, Check 21 contains a special refund procedure (called “expedited recredit”) for a consumer who suffers a loss related to a substitute check he or she received.

Back to Top

What protections do I have if I receive image statements, access pictures of my checks online, or receive an account statement with descriptive information about my canceled checks?

Years ago, many financial institutions stopped providing customers with canceled checks and, as an alternative, began providing customers with documentation showing which checks were paid. Regardless of the form of documentation you receive, check law protects you against erroneous and unauthorized check payments.

Back to Top

If I suffer a loss related to a substitute check I received, can I file a claim with my financial institution?

Yes. If you have received a substitute check, you can file a special claim with your financial institution for a refund (called an “expedited recredit”) if you believe that

  1. The substitute check was incorrectly charged to your account,
  2. You lost money as a result of the substitute check being charged to your account, and
  3. You need the original check or a copy sufficient to show that the substitute check was incorrectly charged to your account.

Back to Top

Does the special refund procedure apply if I receive an image statement with a picture of a substitute check but do not receive the actual substitute check?

No. The special refund procedure applies only if you actually received a substitute check. However, check law protects you from improper check charges regardless of whether you receive an original check, substitute check, image statement, or a line item on your account statement. If you feel an error was made to your account, contact your financial institution immediately.

Back to Top

How do I make a claim under the Check 21 refund procedure?

If you believe that you have suffered a loss relating to a substitute check that you received, you should contact your financial institution as soon as possible but no later than 40 days from when your financial institution mailed or delivered your account statement. Your financial institution will ask you to provide information it needs to investigate your claim, which could include a description of the problem, an estimate of your loss, and information about the substitute check.

Back to Top

How quickly must my financial institution handle my claim, and when will my account be refunded?

Your financial institution should investigate your claim promptly. If your financial institution finds that it incorrectly charged your account, the financial institution must refund the amount of your claim (up to the amount of the substitute check, plus interest if your account earns interest) within one business day of making that decision.

If your financial institution is unable to determine the validity of your claim within 10 business days after receiving it, your financial institution on that day must refund the amount of your loss up to the lesser of amount of the substitute check or $2,500, plus interest (if your account earns interest). Unless your financial institution determines that your claim is not valid, it must refund to your account any remaining amount of your loss, up to the amount of the substitute check, plus interest, no later than the 45th calendar day after the financial institution received your claim.

If your financial institution later determines that your claim was not valid, it may reverse the refund and interest it has paid to you.

Back to Top

How will I know if my financial institution has refunded my account?

If your financial institution refunds your account, it will send you a notice by the next business day that tells you the amount of your refund and the date on which you may withdraw those funds. Normally, you may withdraw your refund on the business day after your financial institution refunds your account.

Back to Top

Can my financial institution delay my ability to withdraw the amount that it refunds?

If your financial institution is still investigating your claim, it may delay your ability to withdraw up to the first $2,500 of the refund if (1) you are a new accountholder, (2) your account is repeatedly overdrawn, or (3) the financial institution has reason to believe the claim is fraudulent. In these cases, your financial institution must allow you to withdraw the funds after determining that your claim is valid or on the 45th calendar day after the day that you submitted your claim, whichever occurs first.

Back to Top

What happens if my financial institution says it charged my account correctly?

If your financial institution determines that it correctly charged your account, it will send you a notice by the next business day which explains the reason for that decision and will include either the original check or a copy of the original check which is sufficient to determine the validity of your claim. Your financial institution will also either include the documentation the financial institution used in making its determination or will explain that you can request such documentation.

Back to Top


 

Check 21: General FAQs Check 21: Substitute Checks Check 21: Consumer Protection Check 21: Original Checks