The Check 21 Act is a federal law that changes the way your paid checks are handled. Customers who receive canceled checks in their monthly checking account statements (as well as those receiving image statements and those who access statements online) will notice some of the checks look different. These different-looking checks are called substitute checks, and are a legal representation of your cleared check.
What You Need to Know about "Check 21"
The changes brought on by Check 21 eventually will improve check collection by automating many of the high-touch manual procedures. The result should be faster, more efficient clearing and posting of check payments.
We understand that you have questions about Check 21 and how it will affect you personally. The answers to some of the most frequently asked questions are right here at your fingertips.
Q. What is Check 21?
A. Check 21 creates a new legal document, called the substitute check, which can be used for proof of payment or for other reasons that might require an original check. Some of the checks you receive from us may be substitute checks. Which checks are converted to substitute checks will depend on the depositing bank.
Q. What is a "substitute check?"
A . A substitute check is a legally sanctioned document, with all the rights and obligations given the original check written from your checkbook. Substitute checks are paper copies created from electronic images of original paper checks (front and back, with all endorsements). Each substitute check also includes a statement identifying it as a legal copy of the original check.
Q. What does a substitute check look like?
A . A substitute check is approximately 8.5 inches long or about the size of a “business” check.
It is a paper image of the original check – both front and back, with endorsements, and it is required to include the following statement: “This is a LEGAL COPY of your check. You can use it the same way you would use the original check.” It contains a MICR line duplicating that of the original check with a substitute check identifier, and it identifies both the bank creating the image and the bank creating the substitute check.
Q. Do all copies created from check image files qualify as substitute checks?
A. No, only images that meet the “substitute check” requirements qualify. Typical check image statements are not considered substitute checks.
Q. Does this mean I won’t get back my canceled checks?
A. In some cases you may not receive the original. If you receive canceled checks with your monthly checking account statements, some of the checks returned to you may actually be substitute checks. Regions will continue to provide returned checks as agreed with certain accounts. However, additional fees may be required in order to continue the service in the future. If you have questions, please contact a customer service representative and ask about what new types of account options are available.
Q. What if I need a copy of my canceled check?
A. Not to worry. Regions customers should contact us at 1-800-REGIONS (1-800-734-4667). We will have a copy out to you quickly.
Q. What happens to my original check?
A. Typically, original checks are destroyed once the check is digitized. There are no requirements governing the retention of original checks. Substitute checks are legal alternates for proof of payment.
Q. What if there’s an error involving a substitute check?
A. Check 21 requires that we provisionally recredit your account, usually within 10 business days, for any substitute check you receive and dispute. Please review your monthly checking account statements and contact us immediately if you suspect an error.
Q. How will this affect my day-to-day account management practices?
A. This is one of the advantages of Check 21 – checks you write should clear sooner. So while check deposits will post quicker, it will also raise the possibility that some checks will be returned NSF if there were non-sufficient funds in the account when you wrote the check. You should not write checks for amounts that can’t be covered by funds already in your account.
Q. How is Check 21 of benefit to me?
A . Check 21 is good news for you because it will provide you with several benefits:
- Less clutter by not having to store canceled checks.
- Eliminates delays in posting checks due to weather or transportation problems.
- Improves online access to check images and imaged statements.
- Check deposits in the customer’s account will clear more quickly.
- Faster error resolution in situations when an error is suspected.
Q. What are some product options that I can consider?
A. As a result of Check 21, now is a great time to consider other Regions products that could reduce the need to receive canceled checks in your statement. These products include:
- Duplicate checks. If you historically require canceled checks in your statements, you might find duplicate checks an attractive alternative. Duplicate checks provide a carbonless copy of the check at the time of transaction. They do not contain customer personalization or routing and account numbers, making the document safe from fraudulent activity.
- Regions VISA CheckCard. Because a debit card works like a check, it’s ideal if you require canceled checks in your statements. Benefits include:
- Convenience – no need to carry a checkbook
- Less expensive than check products
- No fees charged for providing paper documents in the statement
- Regions Online Banking. A convenient alternative to paying bills by check, the online banking with bill pay option allows you 24/7 access to routine banking and allows you to:
- Pay bills online
- Set up automatic recurring payments
- Schedule payments in advance
- Receive statements online for convenient account balancing
- Statement history is available online for up to 18 months
- Statements are printable or can be saved electronically
- Image Statements.
You may want to opt for this convenient option which allows you to receive in your monthly statements images of each check written. These are easier to file and maintain over time than canceled checks.
If you have other questions about Check 21, Regions customers call 1-800-REGIONS
(1-800-734-4667) and speak with a customer service representative.