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Does the Bank Name Need to be Printed on a Check

Do I Have to Provide a Stop Payment in Writing to Prevent an Automatic Payment at My Bank

How do you Make Sure a Cashier’s Check is Good

Can You Open a Joint Bank Account with Anyone

What’s a Medallion Signature Guarantee, and When is it Required

Can a Bank Put a Hold on My Deposit in a Money Market Account

Why Should Someone Have A POD Designation on a Bank Account

What Happens if a Family Member Uses My Debit Card without My Permission

What is a Revocable Trust Bank Account

What does FDIC Insured Mean

Can You Open a Bank Account without a Social Security Number

Who Controls a Joint Checking Account if all of the Money in the Account is Mine

Can a Foreign Resident Open a Bank Account in the U.S.

What is the Difference Between a Joint Bank Account and an Agent or Power of Attorney (POA)

Do Banks Sell Money Orders

Why Are Some Bank Savings Account Rates Higher Than Their CD Rates

Do Banks Sell Postage Stamps

What are the Safest High Yield Fixed Income Investments

Is It Better to Have a Bank CD That Automatically Renews at Maturity

What Part of the Interest Earned on a Bank CD will go to Pay Taxes

What is a High Yield CD

What is a Debit Card Authorization Hold

What is a Credit Union Share Certificate

Do I have to Pay Taxes on the Interest Earned on a Bank Savings Account

What are Bank Lockbox Services

What are Transaction Limitations on a Bank Money Market Account?

What is an Odd Term Certificate of Deposit?

Can I Overdraw My Account Using an ATM or by Using My Debit Card?

Will Frequent Use of ATMs to Get Cash Impact My Credit

What are Tiered Interest Rates on Savings Accounts and Money Market Accounts?

How Many Times can the IRS Levy my Bank Account?

What Does a Bank Mean by an On-Us Check?

How do I Receive a Wire Transfer to my Bank Account?

How Do You Activate or Reactivate a Dormant Bank Account?

Can You Cash a Check if it is Not Signed?

What is a Funds Availability Policy?

Can a Bank CD Become Dormant and the Money Surrendered to the State?

Why do Banks Want Direct Deposit?

Can I Endorse a Treasury Check or Tax Refund Check for Someone Else to Cash?

What is a Bank Mini Statement?

How Long is a Cashier’s Check Good For?

Who Can Endorse a Check Made Out to Cash?

Can a Bank Freeze my Account Without my Permission?

Can Judgments Be Attached to my Bank Account?

What are Foreign ATM Fees?

Who Can Close a Checking Account?

Will a Returned Check from Someone Else Impact My Credit?

Can a Check be Cashed if it is Ripped or Torn?

What are the Risks with a Joint Checking Account?

Is Postdating a Check Legal?

Will Having Insufficient Funds Cause Checks to Bounce?

Can You Open a Joint Checking Account without Being Married?

Can a Certificate of Deposit from One Bank used to get a CD Loan from Another Bank?

Why does a Bank need my Social Security Number?

How Long Can Someone Wait to Deposit a Check?

Are Barclays Bank CDs FDIC Insured?

Can You Keep a Checking Account Open After Filing for Bankruptcy?

Can You Put a Stop Payment on a Bounced Check?

If a Bank Account is Frozen will Check Already Written Clear the Bank?

Can a Retailer ask for Personal Information to Accept a Check for Payment?

What is a Bank Switch Kit?

How Long Can a Bank Place a Hold on the Deposit of a Foreign Check?

Can a Check Bounce after it has Cleared the Bank?

What is the Difference Between an Electronic Funds Transfer and ACH?

Do Joint Checking Accounts have to Show Both Names Printed on the Checks?

Can I Get a Joint Account Holder off of my Bank Account?

How Long has to go by Before a Check is Considered Void?

Do I have to Pay for a Check from my Account that was Forged and not Signed by Me?

What is Positive Pay Mean in Banking?

Is there a Limit on How Much a Bank can Charge for Cashing a Check if you are not a Customer?

Can You Get a Stop Payment for a Cashier’s Check?

What Happens When you Write a Check from a Closed Checking Account?

How Can You Be Sure that an ACH Transfer is Properly Credited to a Bank Account?

How Long Does a Stop Payment on a Check Last?

What Does It Mean When a Bank Account is Escheated to the State?

What Happens to the Money in a Dormant Bank Account?

Can I Open a Checking Account if I Have Bad Credit?

Why is a Voided Check Needed for Direct Deposit?

Can a Checking Account Verification Report keep me from Opening an Account with a Bank?

How Do You Reverse a Bank Wire Transfer?

Why Would a Bank Close an Account?

Who Can Put a Hold on my Bank Account?

Do I Need a Reason to Get a Check Stop Payment Order?

Why Would My Bank Account be Frozen?

Why Can’t I Open a Checking Account?

What does it mean to have a POD Account at a Bank?

What Happens to a Direct Deposit if my Account is Closed?

Is it Ok to Endorse a Check for Deposit Only

What is a Returned Deposit Fee?

Why Do Checking Accounts offer such Low Interest Rates?

What is a Tiered Rate Bank Account?

Can a Check be Deposited or Cashed if it does not have a Date on It?

How Long Can a Bank Put a Hold on Credit Card Check?

What is a Voided Check?

Can a Bank Increase the Fees on my Checking Account?

What is a Traveler’s Check?

Can the Bank Accept a Check Even if the Account Holder has Died?

What is a Check Image Fee?

Is a Bank Required to Notify Me if My Checking Account is Overdrawn?

Can a Bank Close My Account?

How Long Can a Bank Put a Hold on a Traveler’s Check?

What is a Sustained Overdraft Fee?

What is a Third Party Check?

What are Restrictive Legends on a Check?

What is the Posting Order for a Checking Account?

What Should I do if I Overdraw my Checking Account?

Can You Deposit a Check that is Written to Two People into an Individual Checking Account

How is Money Deposited into a Bank Account with Direct Deposit?

What Does the Bank Mean by Posting on a Checking Account?

How Long Does it Take for a Wire Transfer to Clear a Bank?

How Long Can a Bank Place a Hold on a Government Check Deposit?

Does a Bounced Check Affect Credit Reports and Credit Scores?

Why Should You Get Overdraft Protection

Should Someone Always Open a Checking Account that Earns Interest?

What is the Difference Between an Overdraft Fee and a Bounced Check Fee?

Is a Checking Account the Same as a Bank Account?

If I Invest a Large Sum of Money in a Bank CD, Can I Withdraw the CD Interest Earned Each Month?

If a Check is Fake, Isn’t that the Bank’s Problem?

Is there any Minimum Amount a Checking Account has to be Overdrawn by Before the Bank can Charge an Overdraft Fee?

Can a Bank Place a Hold on a Deposit Made into a Savings Account

Do You Have to Endorse a Check that is Made Payable to Cash

Why Does the Mortgage Lender Want Copies of my Tax Returns

Can a Bank Offer a Debit Card with a Money Market Account

Can My Bank Cash a Posted Date Check and I am Now Responsible to Pay the Overdraft Fee

Are Bank IRA Accounts Covered by the FDIC

What is a Restrictive Endorsement on a Check

What is the Fee for a Wire Transfer

What is a Mortgage Modification

What is an Installment Debt

What Age is Too Young to Qualify for a Mortgage

What is a Bank Wire Transfer

What is direct deposit

Are Credit Unions Good?

Are There Any Limits to the Amount of ATM Fees that can be Charged by a Bank for Using an ATM?

Do Banks Have Notaries and Will a Bank Notarize My Documents?

Can You Cash a Check at any Bank

If Interest Rates are not Moving, Should I Buy Long Term Bank CDs to Get the Highest Yield?

What Does a Mortgage Lender Mean by a Clear Title?

What is a Sweep Account offered by a Bank?

What is the Difference Between a Credit Card and a Debit Card?

What’s the difference between an Interest Checking Account and a Money Market Account with Check Writing Privileges?

What are the Biggest Risks with Bank CD Investments?

What is the significance of bank routing number and what do the routing numbers represent? (By Nathan R. in Massachusetts)

Online Banks often have CD Rates and Savings Account Rates that are better than my Local Bank, How are these Online Banks Regulated?

What is a Linked Account at a Bank?

Does the Bank Name Need to be Printed on a Check

There is no specific regulation that states the name of the bank must be printed on a check however, the identity of the bank must be disclosed on the check for the check to be presented for payment.  Without identifying the drawee, the bank or other financial institution where the check can be presented for payment, the check is incomplete.

The UCC or Uniform Commercial Code and The Code of Federal Regulations are a set of regulations that covers many of the rules regarding the payment of checks.  The UCC defines a check as a draft, payable on demand and drawn on a bank and the CFR defines a check as a negotiable demand draft drawn on or payable through or at an office of a bank.  Based on these definitions it is clear the name of the bank that a check is drawn on is an essential element that identifies a check.

Regulations in the UCC and CFR further state that a check be presented at a place specified by the check and covers a variety of options including a specific bank branch when one is identified or any of the locations that are owned and operated by the drawee, the bank where the check can be presented for payment.  The rules and regulations regarding payment requires the bank information be present on the check.

While the bank’s name must appear on a check, the bank’s specific address is an optional element.

More information on federal regulations can be found at
Information regarding Uniform Commercial Code regulations are can be found at  Note – the UCC is adopted by each state and may vary depending on the state of adoption.

Do I Have to Provide a Stop Payment in Writing to Prevent an Automatic Payment at My Bank

Your bank may require that you put the stop payment request in writing but only after they accept your verbal request to issue the stop payment.  Stop payments for preauthorized electronic funds transfers (EFTs) or payments are covered by federal banking laws that all banks must follow.  Regulation E, set forth by the Federal Reserve, outlines the rules and regulations financial institutions must follow for electronic funds transfers (EFTs) including the rules and procedures for stop payments.

Banking customers in general, have the right to stop an automatic payment from their bank account, even if they have set up and allowed these payments previously.  A bank customer may place a stop payment for a preauthorized electronic fund transfer from their account by notifying the bank orally or in writing at least three business days before the scheduled date of the payment transaction.

The stop payment order can be delivered to the bank in person, over the phone, or in writing.  A financial institution may require written confirmation of the oral stop payment order to be made within 14 days of the consumer’s original notification.  Banks that do require written confirmation, have to inform the consumer of the requirement and provide the address where confirmation must be sent when the consumer gives the oral notification.

When you request a stop payment request for a preauthorized electronic funds transfer, you have to provide the bank with notice of the stop payment request at least three business days before the scheduled date of the payment.

Even though, as a bank customer, you are afforded certain protections to make stop payment requests and prevent unwanted electronic transactions from your account, the bank may asses a charge for the stop payment request.  In addition, stopping the automatic payment does not cancel the agreement with the company where the payment transfer is being sent.  Be sure to cancel the contract with the company that is receiving the automatic payments.

How do you Make Sure a Cashier’s Check is Good

A growing problem with the acceptance of a cashier’s check as a form of payment is verifying whether the cashier’s check is good and the funds will clear the bank.  Unfortunately, because a valid cashier’s check is seen as being as good as cash, cheaters and fraudsters have discovered ways to manufacture fake cashier’s check to engage in a variety of fraudulent financial transactions.

A valid cashier’s check has generally been viewed as a very good form of payment for the recipient since these checks are already funded by the bank of origin or the bank they are drawn on.  When a bank customer obtains a cashier’s check they must pay for the check in full before it is issued by the bank and the check is drawn on the bank itself, not the

Unfortunately, the only effective way to make sure a cashier’s check is good is to have the bank that issued the cashier’s check authenticate the check.  And, in almost all cases this must be performed at a branch of the issuing bank.  While it is feasible to call the bank to verify the cashier’s check using the check number, the bank branch address, and routing number, this is not enough to prove the check is good.

Clever fraudsters have produced fake checks that use an actual bank address and the requisite bank routing number.  A well forged cashier’s check will have all the pertinent information that will not only fool a consumer accepting the check but will pass scrutiny when the issuing bank is called.

By checking the bank address printed on the check along with the routing number and the generally quality of the printed check, a recipient of a cashier’s check can reduce the chances of accepting a fake check but direct verification with the issuing bank of the cashier’s check is the only way to make sure the check is good.

The difficulty verifying whether a cashier’s check is good or not is one of the primary reasons why scams and fraud have increased so dramatically with these forms of payment.  The implied security that comes with a cashier’s check is another reason why recipients often takes these checks without taking precautions to avoid being on the receiving end of a scam.

Consumers that do accept a cashier’s check as payment should be vigilant to avoid getting stuck with worthless paper, even if the bank accepts the check for deposit.  Just because the money is in an account after a check is deposited, does not mean it the check has cleared.  Banks are required to make funds available within a very short time period and it is the consumer that is responsible for the checks they deposit.  If a deposited check is fraudulent or fake, the depositor is liable for any funds removed from the account that originated from the bogus cashier’s check unless the bank confirms that the check has cleared.

Can You Open a Joint Bank Account with Anyone

Typically, joint bank accounts are opened by married couples and individuals that live together.  However, joint bank accounts can be opened by any individuals that wish to have a shared account.  You do not have to be married or live together to obtain the benefits that come with a joint checking account or savings account.

In general, you can open a joint checking account with anyone you like.  The joint owner can be a relative that does not live with you or a friend, a business partner or just about anyone else.

Joint accounts can be very useful money management and savings tool for a number of different joint relationships.  A joint bank account can certainly make managing combined finances easier by facilitating budgeting and saving.  Joint account owners however, should take caution regarding the financial relationship that is created with this type of bank account ownership.

Each account owner in a joint account has equal access to all the funds.  Both account holders can use all available funds regardless who deposited the money.  Both parties on the account are responsible for any account fees, debts, and penalties on the account.  This means that each person named on the joint bank account can withdraw or write a check for any amount without the permission or knowledge of the other account holder.  Joint bank accounts with non-relatives will often depend heavily on trust and good financial management.

Most banks, credit unions, and other financial institutions make the process for opening a joint account relatively easy.  You will need the same information that’s needed when opening an individual account, but you’ll need it for both applicants.  Standard documentation for opening an account include; a valid U.S. address, Social Security number, and a valid photo I.D. (Driver’s License, Passport, Military I.D. etc.).  Each bank and financial institution will have their own requirements that may vary in some measure.

What’s a Medallion Signature Guarantee, and When is it Required

A medallion signature guarantee is a special kind of endorsement guarantee made by a financial institution.  In general, this guarantee is used to ensure a signature is genuine and authentic.  The guarantee is also used to ensure the signer had the legal capacity to sign and the signer was an appropriate person to endorse the document or security.

The guarantee can be secured from a variety of financial institution such as banks, savings associations, credit unions, and brokerage firms that participate in a medallion guarantee program.

Medallion signature guarantees are usually reserved for transactions that involve securities and securities accounts.  Examples of a situations where a medallion signature guarantee is needed is when a stock holder is transferring ownership of stock from one account to another, when a registered owner is added or removed from an account, account redemptions that are payable to individuals other than the registered account owner, and related financial transactions and transfers.

Transfer agents require the guarantees to limit their liability if the signature is not valid or is part of a forgery.  The process also protects the owner of the certificate by making it harder for a fraudulent transaction to occur.

The institution that provides the medallion signature guarantee is certifying the validity of the signature and that institution is potentially liable for the financial value involved in the transaction.

The service is provided only by banks or other financial institutions that have been certified to issue medallion signature guarantees.  The medallion signature guarantee is not the same as a notary public stamp.  A notary public can’t provide a medallion signature guarantee.  Medallion signature guarantees are not notarial acts and can only be performed by specially authorized bank personnel or designated employees of a financial institution.  A notary does involve the financial responsibility that exists when an institution provides a medallion signature guarantee.

The cost for the guarantee is generally minimal or may even be free of charge at those financial institutions that offer the service however, financial institutions will usually provide the service to existing customers only.

Can a Bank Put a Hold on My Deposit in a Money Market Account

Most bank customers are familiar with holds that may be placed on checks deposited into a checking account but they may not be as familiar with holds made on deposits in a money market account.  Banks often place holds on consumer account deposits to protect the bank and the account holder from losses.  Holds may be placed on any deposit account offered by the bank including, money market accounts.

A number of regulations affect the rules governing bank hold times and protect consumer rights regarding the information about funds availability.  However, the policies established by your bank may not be the same for checking accounts and money market accounts or savings accounts.

Federal regulations requires banks to use a standardized hold period on deposits and to let customers know when funds from deposits will be available.  Checking accounts have explicit maximum hold times established by federal Regulation CC, Availability of Funds and Collection of Checks.  Many bank customer are aware of these rules or have experienced the impact they have regarding deposits made into their checking accounts.  But, Regulation CC limits the use of holds and requires financial institutions provide customers with disclosures for transaction accounts.

Checking accounts are transaction accounts, money market and savings account are not.  Regulation CC hold limits do not apply to money market and savings accounts, there are no federal limitations on the use of holds on these bank products.  Therefore, a bank’s funds availability policy may be different for money market accounts and checking accounts.

Some banks include savings accounts, money market accounts, and checking accounts under the same rules for funds availability while other banks have separate funds availability policies for checking accounts and other deposit accounts such as money market accounts, savings accounts, and even certificates of deposit.

Banks are not exempt from disclosing their rules for holds and funds availability for money market accounts.  Your bank must specifically state the availability periods for the various types of deposits that may be made on the consumer accounts they offer.  To check an individual banks policy, see the account agreement, descriptive brochures provided by the bank, or seek out a bank staff member to explain the terms.

Why Should Someone Have A POD Designation on a Bank Account

POD designations are generally added to bank accounts to facilitate the transfer of account funds when the bank account owner dies.  With a POD, when the account owner dies the money in the bank account will not be subject to the terms of the account owner’s last will and testament and will not be subject to administration in the probate court.  This process grants almost immediate access to the account funds by the beneficiary.  A POD is also very easy to set up with a bank and can be accomplished without additional cost or bank fees.

The bank account holder can name more than one beneficiary if they choose and can change the beneficiary at any time.  Prior to the account holder’s death, the beneficiary has no access to the account or the funds in it.

A POD can help alleviate some common problems regarding who gets the money in an account when the owner dies.  One problem the POD solves is making sure the proceeds of an account is payable to the intended beneficiary.  As long as the designated beneficiary survives the account owner, the money in the account will bypass a last will and testament.

Additionally, after the account holder’s death, the funds will not be held up or frozen due to the rules of probate.  Probate is the legal process of gathering a deceased person’s assets and distributing them to creditors and inheritors and can be a dreadfully time consuming process.

It is also important to note, with a POD there is no need to add the intended beneficiary as a joint account owner.  Joint account ownership will give the added individual complete access to the account while the owner is alive.  While the account holder is still alive, the POD does not give the beneficiary any rights to claim the account funds.  They can only claim the money upon the account holder’s death.

What Happens if a Family Member Uses My Debit Card without My Permission

Unauthorized use of a debit card or ATM card is covered by Federal Reserve regulation E and The Electronic Fund Transfer Act of 1978.  These banking regulations provide broad protections to consumers regarding fraudulent and unauthorized electronic financial transactions even if the unauthorized transactions were conducted by a family member or if the account holder unknowingly released their bank account information and PIN number.

The primary objective of the act and regulation is the protection of individual consumers engaging in electronic fund transfers and remittance transfers.  By providing extensive protection to consumers engaged in these transactions, the Federal Reserve supported consumers in their use of electronic payments, online banking, substitute checks, and a variety of other electronic funds transactions and transfers.

The regulation covers a wide range of electronic financial transactions but it also specifically covers a consumer’s liability for an unauthorized electronic fund transfer at a bank or other financial institution.

Under the regulation, a bank customer has limited liability for unauthorized withdrawals if they notify the bank in a timely manner.  The bank customer’s loss from the unauthorized transaction with a debit card or ATM card is limited to $50.00 if the bank is notified within two business days.  If the customer notifies the bank after two business days but within 60 days, the loss could be as much as $500.00.  Should the customer not report the loss within 60 business days, the customer risks the potential for unlimited loss due to the unauthorized use of the card.

While the Federal banking regulations provide broad protections to consumers for electronic transactions with their bank, there are situations where the regulations will not protect certain unapproved financial transactions by family members.

The regulation defines an unauthorized electronic fund transfer as a transaction from a consumer’s account initiated by a person other than the consumer without actual authority to initiate the transfer and from which the consumer receives no benefit.  However, the term, unauthorized, specifically does not include an electronic fund transfer initiated by a person who was furnished the access device to the consumer’s account by the consumer, unless the consumer has notified the financial institution that transfers by that person are no longer authorized.

The current regulations protect consumers even when they make mistakes but, customers can still be liable for unauthorized withdrawals if their card is lost or stolen and they do not follow the rules to notify the bank or if they explicitly gave permission to the user in the past and failed to notify the bank that the user was no longer authorized to make transactions with the card or account.

What is a Revocable Trust Bank Account

A revocable trust is a document created by a grantor to manage their assets during their lifetime and distribute the remaining assets for the eventual benefit of a designated beneficiary or beneficiaries.  A trust is a separate legal entity that is administered by a trustee.  The trust set up by the grantor establishes a trustee who is the legal representative and controller of the trust assets.  Often with revocable trust bank accounts, the grantor is also the trustee.

With a revocable trust account, the grantor can change the terms, beneficiaries, trustee or other features at any point during the grantor’s lifetime.  The owner of the trust controls the bank deposits in the trust during their lifetime.  A revocable trust bank account is eligible for FDIC insurance.

The FDIC provides coverage for several different categories of ownership which allows for insurance coverage well above the standard $250,000.00 limit.  The revocable trust is a separate legal entity from the grantor who creates it, even though the grantor may also be the trustee.

Since the revocable trust bank account is recognized as a separate legal entity, FDIC limits consider the trust to be a separate form of account ownership when evaluating the maximum amount of FDIC coverage for the owner.  The FDIC defines the term “owner” to mean the grantor, settlor, or trustor of the revocable trust.

Deposit insurance coverage for revocable trust accounts is provided to the owner of the trust.  Each owner of a revocable trust bank account is insured up to $250,000 for each unique eligible beneficiary named or identified in the revocable trust, subject to specific limitations and requirements.  The amount of coverage is based on the number of beneficiaries named in the trust and, in some cases, the interests allocated to those beneficiaries, up to the insurance limit.

This information is intended to give consumers a basic understanding of revocable trust bank accounts, but it cannot substitute for a thorough review with an estate attorney or tax professional.

What does FDIC Insured Mean

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) is an independent agency of the federal government headquartered in Washington, D.C.  The mission of the FDIC is to preserve and promote public confidence in the U.S. financial system by insuring deposits in banks and thrift institutions.  The FDIC protects depositors’ funds in the event of the financial failure of an insured bank or savings institution.

The standard FDIC insurance amount is $250,000.00 per depositor, per insured bank, for each account ownership category.  Deposits maintained in different categories of legal ownership at the same bank can be separately insured.  Therefore, it is possible to have deposits of more than $250,000 at one insured bank and still be fully insured.  Deposits in one insured bank are insured separately from deposits in another insured bank.

In the event of a bank failure, FDIC deposit insurance covers the balance of each depositor’s account, up to the applicable insurance limit, including the account principal and any accrued interest through the date of the bank’s closing.

The FDIC insurance only protects depositors and their deposits at an insured bank.  Types of bank deposit products covered include checking accounts, NOW accounts, and savings accounts, money market deposit accounts (MMDA), and time deposits such as certificates of deposit (CDs).  The FDIC does not insure other financial products offered by banks including; securities, mutual funds or similar types of investments that banks and thrift institutions may offer.

Any individual or entity can have FDIC insurance on a deposit.  A depositor does not have to be a U.S. citizen or a resident of the United States to have accounts covered by the FDIC.

The FDIC web site,, provides resources to help consumers determine if a bank is an FDIC insured institution.  In addition, an FDIC official sign is posted at every insured bank and savings association.  The agency’s web site also offers an online tool to help consumers calculate the maximum amount of FDIC insurance available with different account ownership categories.

FDIC insurance is backed by the full faith and credit of the United States government however, the deposit insurance fund consists of premiums already paid by insured banks.  Since the formation of the FDIC in 1933, no bank customer has ever lost money that was held in an FDIC insured deposit.

Can You Open a Bank Account without a Social Security Number

There is no law that requires a bank or other financial institution to obtain a customer’s social security number before opening an account.  However, the rules are very specific for U.S. residents regarding what identification information is acceptable and there is very few alternatives for customers that do not have a social security number.  For non-U.S. residents, the identification information required by banks is quite different.

The USA PATRIOT Act, signed into law in 2001, prescribes regulations establishing minimum standards for financial institutions and their customers regarding the identity of a customer that shall apply with the opening of an account at the financial institution (Section 326 of the USA PATRIOT Act).

Based on the rules and regulations established with the passing of the PATRIOT Act, banks and other financial institutions are required by law to verify the identity of their customer before opening an account.  A component of the legally mandated identification process entails an identification number.  An identification number for a U.S. resident opening a new bank account is a taxpayer identification number (TIN) or evidence of an application for one.

The term, taxpayer identification number is very specific.  The taxpayer identification number referred to by the rules and regulations set forth in the PATRIOT Act is defined using the parameters promulgated by the Internal Revenue Code (Section 6109 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986). The Internal Revenue Code identifies a taxpayer identification number (TIN) as an individual social security number (SSN) or an IRS individual taxpayer identification number (ITIN).

A taxpayer identification number and an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number are two distinctly different terms.  An Individual Taxpayer Identification Number is a tax processing number issued by the Internal Revenue Service.  The IRS created the Individual Taxpayer Identification Number so that individuals who are not eligible to obtain Social Security Numbers could obtain an identification number for tax purposes.

The rules and regulations that apply to banks and other financial institutions regarding customer identification programs for U.S. residents are quite clear.  A bank cannot open an account for a U.S. person that does not have a taxpayer identification number.

Note, a bank does not need to obtain a taxpayer identification number when opening a new account for a customer that has an existing account, as long as the bank has a reasonable belief that it knows the true identity of the customer.

Who Controls a Joint Checking Account if all of the Money in the Account is Mine

With a standard joint bank account, each owner of a joint account has full control of the account without regard to whose money was deposited in the account.

Each joint owner on a joint account may withdraw, by any means the bank makes available, any or all of the funds on deposit, close the account, enter into agreements regarding the account, issue stop payments on any check drawn on the account, and engage in related financial activities that involve the joint account and the funds in the account.  In general, the joint account owner has the right to spend the entire account, it does not matter if only one account holder had put the money into the account.

Control over the money in a joint bank account is one of the attributes inherent with this type of account ownership that can lead to disputes and disagreements between the account owners, especially when the addition of a joint account holder is only for convenience.  There are, of course, situations where joint accounts are sensible but there are risks involved in making someone a joint owner.

Account owners should be aware of the risks with joint accounts before adding a joint owner to their account.  Most bank account disclosures will cover the basic rights and responsibilities of the account owners in a joint account.

Can a Foreign Resident Open a Bank Account in the U.S.

There are a number benefits available for foreign residents when they open and maintain a bank account in the U.S.  Unfortunately, after 9/11 and the subsequent Patriot Act legislation that passed in 2001 it has become increasingly difficult for foreigners to open a U.S. bank account.

Federal and state banking laws do not directly bar non-residents from opening a U.S. bank account.  The problem for non-residents is stems from the policies and procedures that banks must adhere to as a result of the Patriot Act.  The rules established through the Patriot Act require each bank to have a customer identification program (CIP) that covers procedures for verifying the identity of each customer.

The identification, verification, and record keeping provisions of the Act make it much harder for a bank to obtain the necessary supporting documents from non-residents.  At a minimum, the bank must obtain the following identifying information from each customer before opening an account:

Account holders name.
Date of birth (for an individual).
Identification number.

The identification number for a U.S. resident will either be a social security number or an individual taxpayer identification number (ITIN) (or evidence of an application for one).  The identification number for a non-U.S. person is one or more of the following:

An ITIN or individual taxpayer identification number.
A passport number and country of issuance.
An alien identification card number.
A number and country of issuance of any other unexpired government-issued document evidencing nationality or residence and bearing a photograph or similar safeguard.

The customer identification program rules required through the Patriot Act establish the minimum identification information and they allow flexibility for each financial institution to adopt procedures appropriate to its size and customer base.  This means the identification procedures may vary significantly from one bank to another.

Due to the complications and ambiguity surrounding foreign account verification and funding sources, most banks and other regulated institutions generally choose to adopt policies and procedures that are more comprehensive than those required by law.

Furthermore, given the availability of counterfeit and fraudulently obtained documents, banks are especially vigilant when verifying the document of non-U.S. residents.  As a result of the complications associated with verifying foreign documents, applicants will generally be required to open a new account at a bank branch location in person.

Bank checking and savings account holders do not have to be a US citizens or residents but, the requirements needed to satisfy the funding and identification requirements can present an insurmountable burden.  Some banks simply do not want to get involved in the overly complex process and refuse to open accounts for foreigners.

What is the Difference Between a Joint Bank Account and an Agent or Power of Attorney (POA)

The differences between having a joint bank account and an account with a power of attorney (POA) are significant.  With a joint bank account, both individuals on the account are equal owners of the account and its contents.  Each joint owner can use the money in the account without consent of the other joint account owner.  An agent designated by the power of attorney does not have ownership of the account and is prohibited from using the money in the bank account(s) for their own purpose.

An agent or power of attorney is someone that is authorized by the account owner to transact business on their behalf.  The account holder does not need to add the name of the agent to the account or otherwise create a joint account to use a power of attorney.  The agent is a fiduciary which means they must always act in the principal’s best interest.  The agent cannot take ownership of the bank assets, only temporary control as outlined in the power of attorney document.

In general, a power of attorney may be written to grant a wide range of powers to the designated agent or it may be written to grant only limited powers allowing the agent to engage in only select transactions or types of transactions.  A joint account has no controls over ether account holder.

While a power of attorney may give the agent broad authority to perform different financial tasks on the account owner’s behalf, the agent must follow the guidelines set out in the written power of attorney.  For example, the account owner can could limit the power to only allow the agent to write checks from their bank account to pay bills.

In addition to the account restrictions that can be written into a power of attorney, a power of attorney can have a time limit after which time they expire.  Joint account ownership is not easily changed and a bank account generally remains as a joint account until the account is closed.  A power of attorney can be changed at any time as long as the account owner is competent.  A power of attorney will expire when the account holder granting the power of attorney dies.

Banks offer joint accounts as a regular course of business but they can be a little bit finicky about POAs.  Banks are not required to take a power of attorney and when they do, some banks may prefer that the account owner use the bank’s approved power of attorney form.

Do Banks Sell Money Orders

Most banks in the U.S. do sell money orders to their customers.  In fact, many banks that offer money orders to their customers also offer money orders for non-customers.  The fees for money orders purchased from a bank vary widely from institution to institution and will often, vary based on the type of account or accounts held with the bank.  The money order fees will also increase rather substantially, in most cases, if the money order is purchased by a consumer that is not a customer of the bank.

In contrast the average price for money orders across all banks, among the larger U.S based banks, the fees for money orders are rather consistent from bank to bank. A quick sample of the larger U.S. based banks shows an average cost of $5.00 per money order.

Based on bank fee data obtained in April by, all but one of the larger U.S. based banks charges $5.00 for a money order for clients that have a basic checking account.  The one exception is Fifth Third Bank which charges just $1.00 for a money order.

At Chase Bank, customers with a basic checking account can purchase money orders up to $1,000.00 for a $5.00 fee however, Chase does not charge its clients for money orders with some of the bank’s premium checking accounts.

Bank of America has a $5.00 fee for customer money orders.

Wells Fargo charges $5.00 for money orders but waives the fee on Preferred Checking Accounts.

Citibank has a fee of $5.00 for money orders but has no charge on their Citigold Accounts.

The US Bank fee schedule indicates the charge is $5.00 on money orders regardless of the account type as does PNC Bank and BB&T Bank.

TD Bank has a $5.00 fee for their standard checking accounts and has no fee for the premium checking accounts.

SunTrust offers money orders for customers at a cost of $5.00 per item and $10.00 per item for non-clients.

The Fifth Third Bank fee for a money order is $1.00 each and the fee is waived for the Enhanced, Preferred and Private Bank checking accounts.

Regardless of the bank classification type, the vast majority of FDIC insured banks offer money orders.  Money orders have been a staple product used in the U.S banking system for years.  Even in an age of banking where there are a plethora of checking account options, electronic funds transfers, and debit cards, these payment products continue to be a widely accepted and used method for making financial transactions.

Why Are Some Bank Savings Account Rates Higher Than Their CD Rates

Certificates of deposit (CDs) generally offer higher interest rates than traditional savings accounts.  However, savers will find that some banks promote high yield savings accounts with interest rates that surpass those found on traditional certificates of deposit.

Interest rates on bank savings products, including savings accounts and certificates of deposit, vary from bank to bank.  Banks offer these products with varying interest rates and account features to attract new customers.  The funds on deposit at the bank are used to make loans and manage the bank’s assets and liabilities.

Different banks will have different funding needs which results in a plethora of savings products and rates available to consumers.  Some banks have ample deposits and therefore offer more modest rates of return to their new and existing customers.  Other banks may be expanding and building their loan portfolio and therefore, they will have a need for additional deposits and promote lucrative incentives to lure in new customers and new money.

CDs and savings account have very different structures that can be attractive for both the bank offering the product and the consumer using the product.  Most certificates of deposit have a fixed interest rate and require the account holder to keep their money in the account for a predetermined amount of time.  On traditional CDs, early withdrawals will incur a financial penalty.  The bank and the account holder know the costs and returns offered on these accounts allowing both to manage their financial position for an extended period of time.

Savings account have no maturity date and the funds can be withdrawn without penalty or advance notice by the account holder.  More importantly, savings accounts are variable rate accounts.  The rate offered on a savings account today may change at some time in the future.  This feature gives the bank flexibility to reduce the rate on their savings accounts should the interest rate market change or their asset and liability structure change.  The bank has the option to alter rates over time and the account holder has the option to easily withdraw their funds.

Even when a high yield savings account provides a return above that on a certificates of deposit, these cases are usually only present when comparing short term or mid-term CD accounts.  Rarely, will a bank rate shopper find a high yield savings accounts that offers a rate above a long term, high yield CD account.

There have been times when a bank or banks have actively marketed chart busting rates to bring in money while the institution is in financial distress.  The FDIC has a specific rule that imposes interest rate restrictions for financial institutions that are less than well capitalized to prevent these banks from attracting new money as a means to shore up their balance sheets and bottom line.  Under Part 337.6 of the FDIC Rules and Regulations, a less than well-capitalized insured depository institution may not pay a rate of interest that significantly exceeds the prevailing rate in the institution’s market area or the prevailing rate in the market area from which the deposit is accepted.

Do Banks Sell Postage Stamps

A number of banks in the U.S. sell postage stamps direct to their customers.  Some banks sell stamps through their network of bank branches while other offer this service through their Automated Teller Machines (ATMs).  While there are a number of banks, big and small, that sell postal stamps there are a number of banks that either, do not currently offer stamps as a convenience service for their customers or they have discontinued this service. Among the major U.S. based banks, the majority are not currently selling stamps to new or existing customers.

Included among the larger banks in the country that sell stamps are Wells Fargo Bank, US Bank, Fifth Third Bank, KeyBank, and Associated Bank.  Some of the larger banks that do not offer stamps for sale to their customers include Chase Bank, Bank of America, PNC Bank, TD Bank, BBT Bank, SunTrust Bank, Capital One Bank, Citizens Bank, Bank of the West, and Union Bank.

More information about the names and locations of banks that sell stamps can be obtained by contacting your local bank directly or using the USPO’s web site.  The online search feature at the USPO site allows users to view locations that sell stamps.  By selecting “alternative locations” on the menu options, consumers can find a list of retailers that sell stamps by zip code which includes bank that sell stamps within the selected region.

Banks that do sell stamps offer them for sale as a convenience service for their customers and generally offer the stamps at the same price as the USPO.

What are the Safest High Yield Fixed Income Investments

Not all fixed income investment options have the same level of risk or degree of safety.  A safe investment, whether it is a fixed income investment or any another investment type, is regarded as one that does not expose the account holder to significant levels of risk.  Risk, unfortunately, can come in many forms.

All investments will have some degree of risk.  Risk can be measured by the potential for loss of the principal investment, or risk that the investment cannot be readily converted to cash or cash equivalents in the future, or risk that the rate of return will be altered or diminished overtime.  Most investors that are looking for a high yield via a fixed income investment are trying to avoid market risk or the risk that the investment will lose its value.

The main categories of fixed income investments for investors to consider as safe or having low market risk are individual bonds, bond funds or exchange-traded funds (ETFs), and certificates of deposit.  Accounts such as savings accounts and money market accounts are variable rate accounts and do not have fixed rates and are not categorized as fixed income investments.

When comparing the returns and risk associated with individual bonds, bond funds, and bank CDs, the best balance of risk and return can be found with bank CDs.

Bond funds, both mutual funds and ETFs, are highly susceptible to market risk.  The market risk is based on the possible fluctuation in price of the fund.  Bond funds can drop in value based on the value of the individual bonds held in the fund.  The value of bond fund shares will decline if interest rates increase.

Holding a bond fund or ETF is not the same as holding an individual bond.  The bond funds rollover their assets and buy and sell bonds as needed.  These changes impact the future net asset value of the fund and hence, the fund can fluctuate in price over time.

Individual bonds that are held until maturity are not exposed to market price risk.  Unless the issuer of the bond defaults the holder will receive their principal investment back with accrued interest.  There is no risk of price fluctuation unless the bond holder wants to sell the bond prior to maturity.

Individual bonds are still vulnerable to default risk. Investors in high yield bonds and bond funds have experienced this many times in the past with some very high profile cases occurring during the recent housing bust. The risk of default can be reduced by investing in government bonds, making a reasonable assumption that the U.S. government will never default on its bond obligations.

Bank CDs and individual government bonds are therefore two of the least risky, high rate of return, fixed income investments.  Both types of investments offer fixed interest payments and both are backed by the full faith of the U.S government.  FDIC insurance representing the full faith backing of the U.S government for certificates of desists as long the account holder maintains accounts insured within the FDIC threshold.

In the current interest rate environment, bank CDs win the war over the best rates of return when compared to U.S. Treasury securities.  Throughout 2015 and into the first quarter of 2016 Treasury securities offered a rate of return between 0.05% and 2.50%, depending on the term of the Treasury bill, note, or bond being evaluated.  The six month Treasuries peaked at 0.58%, one year Treasury rates topped out at 0.76%, and five year Treasuries reached its highest yield at 1.81%.

In contrast to the returns on Treasury securities, certificate of deposit holders could earn measurably higher returns.  The best six month CD rates available in 2015 and through the first quarter of 2016 hovered around 0.88%, the best one year CD rates were at 1.30%, and the best five year CD rates hit 2.25% and above.  All of the highest yielding CD maturities available during this time period eclipsed the yields offered on comparable term U.S. Treasury securities.

Pure vanilla, fixed income investments such as bank certificates of deposit can be a wise choice when either the markets are in turmoil or there is a baseline need for diversification.

Is It Better to Have a Bank CD That Automatically Renews at Maturity

Banks often sell automatic renewal policies on their CDs as an added value for their customers.  But, for the astute saver or investor, automatically renewal CDs are anything but a value added feature.  The main drawback with a CD that automatically renews is the element of surprise regarding the CD interest rate that will be earned on the account once it mature and renews. 

The main drawback to auto renewing CDs is the element of surprise regarding the new CD interest rate earned the account will roll into.  When a CD account automatically renews, it renews into a new CD with the same or similar term but at the prevailing interest rate offered by the bank or financial institution. 

Regardless of what interest rates were available when the account holder first opens the account, the renewal rate will be set at the bank’s discretion.  The prevailing interest rate offered by the bank at the time of renewal could be a competitive rate or it could be a rate that is less than ideal. 

Sure, with an automatic renewal feature it’s nice not having to worry about contacting the financial institution that holds a CD account in order to rollover the maturing account into a new one but, what if the current rate on that account is well below the top yielding CD rates are even below the average rate.  Who wants to earn below market returns in exchange for the simple convenience of not having to monitor their maturing accounts.

And when an account that automatically renews does so with an interest rate that is not competitive, the account holder will have sit and wait for the new CD to mature to get their funds back without paying the standard and often onerous, early withdrawal penalty.

What Part of the Interest Earned on a Bank CD will go to Pay Taxes

Interest income derived from bank certificates of deposit (CDs) is taxed as ordinary income.  Interest earnings from a bank CD or other traditional interest bearing account are generally added to any additional earned income and other income as the tax payer figures their adjusted gross income and tax obligation.  The tax rate or percentage of interest that an individual account holder will be obligated to pay for taxes will depend on the individual’s taxable income and marginal tax rate.

The rate of taxation is applied only to taxable income.  Taxable income is not the individual or households gross income.  Taxable income generally reflects the gross income minus any deductions, credits and exemptions that are allowed and claimed.

The federal income tax bracket for the tax payers is used to determine at what rate any taxable income will be taxed including any interest income earned from a bank certificate of deposit.  The applicable tax rate will often vary by tax year and may be different based on the filing status of the tax payer. 

The tax payers filing status determines their filing requirements, the standard deduction amount they are allowed, their eligibility for certain tax credits and tax deductions, and their income tax due.  Because of the various parameters that can impact the CD account holders’ tax liability; it is not possible to determine the amount of interest earned on a CD that the account holder will be obligated to pay for taxes without all of the relevant information.

The tax obligation can be calculated by the account holder with the information they have or can readily obtain.  The amount of interest earned on a certificate should be reported to the account holder by the bank or financial institution where the account is held.  For a standard CD account, the amount of interest earned will be reported on form 1099-INT.  This is the amount of interest the account holder must report to the IRS. 

Taxable interest tax return is normally reported on line 8a for the IRS form 1040; line 8a for the form 1040A; line 2 for form 1040EZ.  If interest income earned is more than $1,500.00, form 1040EZ cannot be used and the tax payer must use form 1040 or 1040A.  Some tax payers may also be required to file Schedule B with their form 1040A or 1040 if their combined taxable interest income is more than $1,500.00 or under certain other conditions are met (see the form instructions).

The main exception regarding income tax on CD interest earnings is, the IRA CD.   Traditional IRA accounts are tax-deferred accounts and interest earned on Roth IRA CDs is generally not taxable.  Tax fliers generally do not include interest income from IRAs in their taxable income until they make withdrawals from the IRA.

These are the most common circumstances surrounding interest earned and taxes due on CD accounts, consult a tax advisor for more details and specific situations.

What is a High Yield CD

A high yield certificate of deposit (CD) account is just like a standard CD account, except the rate of return or annual percentage yield (APY) is typically higher than the rate found on standard CD accounts.  High yield CDs are available at banks and credit unions and are frequently marketed by online banks or online banking division of standard banks.

Certificates of deposit are common savings account that earns interest at a higher rate than regular savings account.  Generally, CD accounts that offer the highest interest rates or, high yield CD accounts, have no greater demands or requirements than standard accounts. 

While CDs are a popular way of saving money, earning a consistent income stream and diversifying savings with principal protection and a guaranteed rate of return there are some drawbacks with these accounts.  With a CD account, the account holder must deposit the money with a bank or credit union and leave it there until the account reaches its maturity date.  The main drawback of any CD is that the bank or credit union offering the CD will impose substantial penalties for early withdrawals from the account.

Along with the early withdrawal penalty, the interest earned on a long term CD may not keep pace with inflation, and if interest rates move higher, CD accounts held before rates move up may no longer be as high as current CD rates.  To avoid or reduce any drawbacks from rising interest rates, CD shoppers should compare the best rates available and secure a high yield CD with a term that best matches their needs. 

High yield CDs can have several different features.  CD shoppers will find most accounts have fixed rates but variable rate accounts are also available.  These accounts can be opened with low minimum deposits or with large deposits, known as jumbo CDs.  Additional special features may include step up CDs, rising rate CDs, liquid CDs and other exotic add-on features.  High yield CDs can be obtained with short term maturities such as three and six month terms or long term maturities which can range from one to several years.

When choosing a high yield CD account, investors should make sure they fully understand the CD interest rate, the term or maturity of the account, any special account features, the minimum opening balance and balance required to earn the advertised yield, and the early withdrawal penalty imposed by the financial institution just in case the funds are needed prior to maturity.

What is a Debit Card Authorization Hold

Debit card authorization holds are a type of financial hold that is placed on a customer’s available funds in a bank or credit union account do to a pending debit card transaction.

When a bank or credit union customer uses their debit card to conduct a credit transaction, a transaction that does not use a PIN, the amount of the transaction is electronically transmitted by the merchant to the financial institution for the total purchase amount in order to obtain the payment authorization.  The amount of the purchase is then placed on hold at the bank or credit union and this amount is immediately deducted from the available balance.  The debit card hold is released as soon as the transaction clears or after a predetermined amount of time has passed.

In some situations, the debit card authorization amount may be higher than the final settlement number or actual purchase amount.  Some merchants, such as hotels, restaurants, rental agencies and gas stations, will preauthorize an amount that is higher or lower than the actual purchase amount.  These merchants may preauthorize transactions for an amount that is higher than the final purchase amount because they do not know how much the purchase will be in advance of the completed transaction.  In some of these circumstances the debit card authorization can result in significant holds against the customer’s account, reducing their available balance for other uses.

What is a Credit Union Share Certificate

A credit union share certificate is a special type of deposit account offered exclusively by credit unions that typically offers a higher rate of interest than a regular savings account.  Share certificates are similar to certificates of deposit issued by banks.  In fact, a credit union share certificate is identical in its function compared to a bank CD. 

Like bank CDs, these certificates require the account holder to invest funds for a specific period of time, called the term.  In the same way a bank customer can with a CD, credit union members can deposit money to a share certificates account for a fixed term of their choice and earn a higher interest rate. 

In general, the longer the term the higher the rate of return on the account.  Share certificates are commonly fixed rate investment accounts but they may also have variable rates or rates that can be bumped up by the account holder or have other payment options that are similar to bank certificates. 

Account holders that want to withdraw before the end of the term, may have to pay a penalty referred to as an early withdrawal penalty.  The penalty amounts, like the interest rates that are offered on these accounts, will vary by institution.

Credit unions are not-for-profit organization owned and controlled by its members.  The term “share” refers to funds the account holder has on deposit, and is a figure that is used in computing dividends or interest earned on the account.  Federal credit union members and account holders are provided with a safety via a federal insurance program similar to a bank, with savings insured up to $250,000 by the National Credit Union Share Insurance Fund (NCUSIF).

Do I have to Pay Taxes on the Interest Earned on a Bank Savings Account

Interest earned on a savings account has to be reported as income on the account holder’s personal tax return.  Most interest paid out from a bank savings account, or interest that is credited to a savings account, and can be withdrawn without penalty is taxable income in the year it becomes available to the account holder. 

As a general rule, any interest earned on a bank savings account is considered taxable income even if the earned interest remains in the account and the account holder does not withdraw the funds.  Some interest earned from a bank savings account that is held in a tax exempt account may be free of income taxes.  Interest received from a tax-exempt still must be recorded but the account holder on their individual tax returns. 

Bank savings account holders should receive either form 1099-INT or form 1099-OID at the beginning of each year for any interest payments made by the bank.  1099-INT is for reporting taxable interest income and 1099 OID is for reporting tax-exempt interest income or payments.  These forms should provide a listing of the total amount of interest payments from the bank that the account holder has to report on their individual tax returns. 

The account holder must include all interest income reported on their federal income tax return.  Note, the bank will also send a copy of the forms reporting the interest earned to the Internal Revenue Service.

Interest earned in a tax-deferred account is generally not taxable until it is withdrawn.  While the bank will still send the applicable form disclosing the amount of interest earned by the account holder, the money held in a tax-advantaged retirement account such as an individual retirement account (IRA) grows tax-deferred until withdrawal.

What are Bank Lockbox Services

Lockbox services are provided by banks to business customers to help businesses receive and deposit payments.  With a lockbox service, the payments a business would collect from their customers are made directly to a designated post office box.  The bank then collects the deposits or payments that have been sent to the box, processes them and deposits the funds directly into the company bank account.

Lockbox services are set up to assist businesses with their payment processing to simplify payment collections and make it more efficient.  The service can save businesses on the man power that is normally needed to collect, process, and deposit remittances.  The service also expedites payment collections and posting payments to an account and therefor reduces the float time and the time when funds are available.  Timely payment information and data that the banks make available can also facilitate accounting functions, such as account reconciliation, for businesses.

Many banks that provide lockbox services will customize their banking services for their business customers.  Services can include online banking functions and data transmission with real-time financial data availability, multiple box locations for faster payment collections and processing, and processing for both electronic payments and paper transfer of funds.

Bank lockbox services may also be referred to as cash management services, remittance services or remittance processing.

What are Transaction Limitations on a Bank Money Market Account?

Bank money market accounts are subject to the rules restrictions established under the Federal Reserve Board Regulation D.  This regulation specifies how banks must classify different types of deposit accounts for reserve requirement purposes.  The regulation covers transaction accounts such as checking accounts, savings accounts, and related bank accounts

Under regulation D, bank money market accounts have the same features and characteristics as savings deposit accounts.  These accounts are subject to the transfer and withdrawal limits that banks must impose based on Regulation D.

For an account to be classified as a savings deposit (which includes money market accounts) the account holder or depositor may make no more than six convenient transfers or withdrawals per month from the account.

The Federal Reserve defines convenient transfers and withdrawals to include preauthorized, automatic transfers (including but not limited to transfers from the savings account or money market account for overdraft protection or for direct bill payments) and transfers and withdrawals initiated by telephone, facsimile, or computer, and transfers made by check, debit card, or other similar order made by the depositor and payable to third parties. 

Other, less-convenient types of account transfers made with the money market account, such as withdrawals or transfers made in person at the bank, by mail, or by using an ATM, do not count toward the six-per-month limit and do not affect the account’s status as a savings account.  Also, a withdrawal request initiated by telephone does not count toward the transfer limit when the withdrawal is disbursed via check mailed to the depositor.

Bank customers that exceed these limitations may be charged a fee, have the account closed, or have the account converted to another account type.  The bank account agreement will specify the actions the bank will take should a customer exceed the transaction limitations on a bank money market account.

The Federal Reserve’s Consumer Compliance Handbook identifies Regulation D and the limitation set for savings and money market accounts.

What is an Odd Term Certificate of Deposit?

Banks and credit unions offer a variety of certificate of deposit terms which can include standard terms and non-standard terms or odd term CDs.  Common CD terms or maturities include 3 month CDs, 6 month CDs, 1 year CDs and on up to 5 year term CDs with the terms frequently divided into 6 month periods. 

An odd term CD is one that has an unusual term to maturity.  An example of an odd term CD may include a 4 month CD, 11 month CD, 25 month term CD, and so on.  Odd term CDs can have a variety of maturities, depending on the issuing banks preference. 

Banks generally use odd term CD as a marketing tool.  When banks are formulating new CD rate promotions they often pick an odd term which will not interfere with the current rates offered by that financial institution on their standard term CD accounts.

Depending on the various products and promotions that are available, odd term certificates can have advantages that include above average yields and targeted terms that may better match an individual’s savings and investment needs.  Consumers comparing CD rates should consider odd term certificates along with standard term CDs in order to find the best CD rate on the market. 

Of course, not all odd term CDs are great buys.  Consumers should never underestimate the talent found in a bank’s marketing department.  Some financials pundits go so far as to accuse banks of using odd term CDs to confuse consumers about the rate of return offered.  While, it is always recommended that banking customers review the fine print and comparison shop, the accusation that odd term CDs are designed to confuse CD shoppers is just plain nonsense.

Along with standard term bank accounts, prospective CD investors should review the odd term CD account terms carefully and even compare those terms against the closest comparable product with a keen eye on the Annual Percentage Yield (APY) to ensure they are obtaining the best option for their needs.

Can I Overdraw My Account Using an ATM or by Using My Debit Card?

Overdrafts crop up when any debit transaction in a checking account, money that is taken out of the account, exceeds the available balance and the bank still approves the transaction.  An overdrawn account can result from a number of different types of financial transactions initiated by the accountholder including ATM transactions and debit card transactions along with checks and other electronic funds transfers.  When the bank covers the payment or authorizes the debit transaction that results in an overdrawn account, the account holder will generally incur an overdraft fee.

Federal banking regulations that became effective on August 15, 2010 requires all banks to obtain the checking account holder’s permission before they can apply their standard overdraft practices to ATM transaction and everyday debit card transactions.  The regulations were passed to stop banks from charging high overdraft fees when a checking accountholder is using an ATM or debit card for relatively small transaction amounts. (see,

Bank customers that do not enroll in their bank’s overdraft protection services, will have any ATM withdrawals and debit card transactions declined that would have resulted in an overdrawn account.  While the bank will not charge overdraft fees on declined ATM and debit card transactions, these transactions will not be honored and the payments are not processed or covered by the bank.  Overdraft coverage for ATM and debit card use must be selected by the accountholder if they want the bank to cover an overdraft when they are trying to get cash or make a purchase with their debit card.

Will Frequent Use of ATMs to Get Cash Impact My Credit

ATM use with a bank account will generally not impact an individual’s credit or credit score.  Regular banking activities such as withdrawals and deposits through an ATM will have no affect on the credit standing of the account holder.  On the other hand, if the ATM actions are conducted using a credit card, which would then be considered a cash advance; there could be some effect on the individual’s credit and credit score.  However, even the impact on a user’s credit profile resulting from a credit card used through an ATM has very little influence on their overall credit rating. 

If the ATM activity involves a bank account such as a checking account or savings account with a check card or ATM card, there is no effect on an individual’s credit score or credit history unless the banking transaction leads to an overdrawn account.  Overdrawn bank accounts can lead to data getting stored in a credit report.  The data will often not show up in a traditional credit report, compiled by the big three credit report agencies, but rather in one of the specialty credit reporting agencies used in the banking industry.

Credit reports are just that, credit reports.  They contain information about the individual and their credit history not their banking history unless it involves credit advanced by the bank.  Taking money out of a bank account that belongs to the ATM user is a debit activity not a creation of credit.  Regular bank activity via check use, ATM use, or other electronic means does not normally involve credit.  A credit report can show banking activity when an account holder overdraws their account and bounces checks.  Using an ATM will generally not cause such action and therefore will not impact an individual’s credit.

What are Tiered Interest Rates on Savings Accounts and Money Market Accounts?

Tiered interest rates on a bank account are ones in which the interest rate earned will vary depending on the amount of money held in the account.  In general, the bigger the balance invested in an account, the higher the interest rate will be on that account.

The rate of returned by the account holder will be dependent on the amount deposited as well as the average balance held in the account.  When deposits or other activity in the account push the balance beyond the next identifiable tier, the entire balance automatically earns interest at the higher rate.  Alternatively, if a withdrawal takes the account balance below a certain level, the entire balance earns interest at the lower rate.

Banks and other financial institutions promote their own terms regarding the accounts that will have tiered interest rates as well as the deposit levels or tiers that will earn specific interest rates and the interest rate they will pay for each tier.  For example, a bank may offer a savings accounts with a tiered interest rate schedule that has three different tiers with the first tier paying an interest rate of 1% for balances of $1,000 to $10,000; a second tier that pays 1.25% interest rate for balances of $10,001 to $25,000; and a third tier that pays a 1.50% interest rate for balances greater than $25,000.00.

Tiered interest rates are frequently found on money market accounts and savings accounts but can also be found on interest earning checking accounts and certificates of deposit.  The tiered interest rates on checking accounts, savings accounts, and money market accounts are variable rates that can change over time.

How Many Times can the IRS Levy my Bank Account?

An IRS bank levy is a legal seizure of a bank account holder’s funds to satisfy a tax debt.  When the IRS levies a bank account, the levy is only for the particular day the notice is received by the bank.  A levy by the IRS on a bank account is a singular or one-time event.  The bank levy is not continuous; the levy is only for the specific day the levy is received by the bank.  The notice of levy will only affect the funds on deposit when the levy is received.

In order for the IRS to collect additional funds in a bank account after the day the levy is initiated, another levy must be served to reach any additional deposited money.  It is uncommon for the IRS to send out consecutive levies to seize a bank account holder’s funds.  It is possible, but not likely.  Other IRS levies, such as a levy on wages and salary, can be continuous and put in force until the debt is settled.

Once a bank receives the levy notification, the bank is required to remove whatever amount is available in the account holder’s account that day, up to the amount of the IRS levy, and send it to the IRS in 21 days unless notified otherwise by the IRS.  The bank levy does not affect any future deposits made into the bank account unless the IRS issues another bank account levy.  Money deposited later is not surrendered, including deposits during the 21 day holding period.  Also, the levy only reaches deposits that have cleared and are available for the taxpayer to withdraw.

More information about the IRS bank levy process can be found within the IRS Collecting Process manual under Section 4, Bank Levies.

What Does a Bank Mean by an On-Us Check?

An on-us check is a check that is presented at the bank where it is drawn.  When an on-us check is cashed or deposited at a bank, the funds are drawn and paid from the same bank.  To clear or process an on-us check, the bank has to simply debit the payor’s account and credit the depositor’s account. 

Banks will generally make check deposits that are drawn “on-us” available on the day of deposit.  The processing time for these types of transactions is quick and the depositor can usually receive payment immediately, providing that there are sufficient funds. 

The collection of interbank checks, checks that are deposited at and drawn on different banking institutions unlike an on-us check, involves more processing and can take longer for the bank to clear.  In most cases, interbank check settlements take place through the Federal Reserve though the transaction may be conducted via electronic delivery.  Depending on the account and type of check, interbank checks can take one day to several days to clear.

According to data from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, approximately 25 percent of all checks processed in 2009 in the United States were on-us checks.  The remaining 75 percent of checks cleared were interbank checks.

How do I Receive a Wire Transfer to my Bank Account?

A wire transfer is an electronic payment service that can be one of the fastest means for sending and receiving funds into a bank account.  Receiving a wire transfer does actually require work by the recipient other than to ensure that the sender has accurate information regarding the bank and bank account holder.

To receive the wire transfer, you need to provide the individual or business that is sending the wire transfer your bank account number and the wire transfer routing number for the bank where your account is held.  Also make sure the sender has the correct full name or names on the bank account where the funds are being sent and the address of the bank.

If the funds being sent are from an overseas location, the sender will also need the SWIFT code for your bank.  A SWIFT code is a unique identification code f used by financial institutions for international wire payments and transactions.  The SWIFT code is used in conjunction with the bank routing number.

Most banks will charge a fee for conducting wire transfers including a fee for receiving a wire transfer.  For details regarding the cost for receiving a wire transfer, refer to the banks account fee schedule or call your local bank branch.

How Do You Activate or Reactivate a Dormant Bank Account?

There are no hard and fast rules established by banking regulators regarding the activation or reactivation of a dormant bank account.  A number of states have clear bank regulations requiring banks to escheat or transfer funds to the state if an account is declared dormant but are often ambiguous about the requirements needed to get can account out of dormant status. 

Since, banks would prefer to keep their clients money as well as avoid the paperwork involved with the escheatment process, most banks make the process to activate a dormant account relatively trouble free. 

An account is inactive and then considered dormant if there has not been a debit or credit to the account because of an act by the depositor and the depositor has not communicated with the bank.  Once the bank has made contact with the account owner or the account holder completes a transaction with the account, then the dormant account gets reclassified as normal.

One of the easiest ways to activate a dormant account is to contact the bank’s customer service center or visit one of the local bank branches.  In some cases and some states, verifying the account owner’s identity will be important for the bank to reactivate the account and this can be performed best in person or via phone.

Bank customers that are not monitoring their accounts should be mindful that their bank will most likely charge a fee each month for having a dormant or inactive account, see inactive account fees for more information.

Can You Cash a Check if it is Not Signed?

A check needs to be signed to be valid negotiable instrument.  Checks are negotiable instruments that permit the transfer of money from a remitter to a payee.  The remitter is the person who writes and signs the check.  The signature of the remitter must be on the face of the check in order for the check to be a negotiable instrument. 

A bank should not accept an unsigned check for deposit.  If a bank accepts an unsigned check there is a strong likelihood it will returned by the other bank where the account is held by the remitter.  If the check deposit is subsequently returned for lack of a signature, the bank may charge the depositor a fee for the reversal.

Although a check needs a signature for the item to be properly payable, the required signature of the remitter may take a variety of different forms.  A signature may be made manually or by means of a device or machine, and by the use of any name, including a trade or assumed name, or by a word, mark, or symbol executed or adopted by a person with present intention to authenticate a writing.

Without a signature, the check is simply no good.

What is a Funds Availability Policy?

A funds availability policy is a banking policy that governs the time between when a customer makes a deposit and when they may use the funds from that deposit.  Regulation CC requires that financial institutions provide customers who have a transaction account with disclosures stating when their funds will be available for withdrawal.

Each bank or credit union will establish their own policies as to when it will let a customer access money after they deposit a check, but federal law under the Expedited Funds Availability Act establishes the maximum length of time a bank or credit union can hold the funds.

Congress passed the Expedited Funds Availability Act (EFAA) in 1987 to address concerns about the lengths of holds banks were placing on checks deposited by their customers.  The EFAA establishes maximum permissible hold periods for checks and other deposits.  Some banks or credit unions may make funds available quicker than the law requires.

The Federal Reserve Board’s Regulation CC implements the funds-availability and disclosure provisions of the EFAA.  Part of the disclosure provisions in the law state that before an account is opened at a depository institution or upon the request of any person, the depository institution shall provide written notice to the potential customer of the specific policy of such depository institution with respect to when a customer may withdraw funds deposited into the customer’s account – the Funds Availability Policy.

Can a Bank CD Become Dormant and the Money Surrendered to the State?

A bank certificate of deposit that matures and has no subsequent activity between the account holder and the bank may very well become classified as a dormant account.  A dormant account is one that has had no explicit contact from the account holder for specified period of time.  The CD account must have been inactive for a set period of time before it is classified as dormant, usually between one and three years.

All banks will have established rules regarding the length of time that needs to go by without activity and/or contact before a CD account or other bank account is deemed dormant.  The specific period is based on the laws or rules of each state.  Once the account, whether it is a CD account or other account, is identified as a dormant, the bank will have to follow the state laws that apply regarding escheatment.

Escheatment is the process of identifying the customer’s deposit accounts, such as checking, savings, and certificates of deposit that are considered abandoned and remitting the funds to the appropriate state agency if the customer cannot be contacted to re-activate the account.  The most common types of dormant and unclaimed accounts at banks are savings and checking accounts, checks that have not been cashed, certificates of deposit, and items abandoned in safe deposit boxes.

All states have laws regarding unclaimed bank accounts that include the rules and requirements that a bank or other financial institution must follow concerning unclaimed property and the process for escheating the bank funds or surrendering the funds to the appropriate state department of revenue or similar state agency.  For more information on dormant bank accounts and the escheatment process for bank accounts that are subsequently turned over to a state agency please see, what does it mean when a bank account is escheated to the state or what happens to the money in a dormant bank account?

Why do Banks Want Direct Deposit?

Direct deposit can help a bank reduce costs, attract new customers, and help retain their base of account holders.  Direct deposits are simply much cheaper for banks to process compare to paper checks and transactions. 

There are a number of efficiencies found in processing direct deposit payments that include no banking personnel needed to physically handle a check since the direct deposit is processed via electronic delivery, reduced error rate that often occurs with manual actions by both the banking customer and bank employee, and reduced costs associated with bounced checks.

Along with reduced costs for the bank with direct deposit, which of course means higher margins for their checking accounts and greater profits, banks frequently use direct deposit services in conjunction with other checking account promotions to market their bank and attract new customers.  Direct deposit is frequently packaged by banks with other perks to attract new customers by marketing the add on services such as direct deposit and online banking or by providing financial incentives with these services to entice customer to switch banks.

Banks have also experienced some benefit with direct deposit services in retaining a higher percentage of their checking account customers over time.  Direct deposit, along with a number of other added benefits banks will tie in with their checking accounts, often leads to stronger banking relationships between the client and the bank.  A more durable relationship results in less customer turnover and ultimately, a more profitable banking relationship for the bank. 

Whether or not account features that require action by the customer such as breaking and then reestablishing a new direct deposit banking relationship at another bank will lead to a longer banking relationship because the customer finds switching banks a hassle, is a hotly contested issue.

Direct deposit, and most all electronic banking features, are money saving tools for the banking industry.  The money saved can be a two way street for the customer and the bank leading to increased profits for the bank and improved or less costly bank fees and services for the customer.

Can I Endorse a Treasury Check or Tax Refund Check for Someone Else to Cash?

There is nothing illegal, against Treasury regulations, or against banking regulations, that prevents someone from endorsing a Treasury check or IRS refund check and transferring the check to another party. Once a check has been endorsed by the payee it becomes a bearer instrument and can be negotiated or cashed by anyone in possession of the check. However, and this is a big however, most banks will not cash third party checks regardless of where the check originates. For more information on these types of checks see, what is a third party check.

The banking industry has been cracking down on third party checks over a concern for fraud and fraudulent signatures since the bank cannot identify the original payee of the check and verify their intention to transfer the check to the third party. If the endorsement turns out to be fraudulent, the bank will be responsible for the loss after they cash the check. IRS is also well aware of this issue and states that tax refund checks and direct deposits should only be deposited directly into accounts that are in the tax payers own name; their spouse’s name or both if it’s a joint account.

Most banks will not cash a third party check even if the check comes from the IRS or US Treasury. It may be possible to find a bank that will accept the check if both parties are present and can prove their identities to the bank’s satisfaction

What is a Bank Mini Statement?

A mini statement is an abbreviated statement that provides details on a select number of banking transactions.  A mini statement usually shows the last ten transactions, debits and credits, made on an account.  The mini statement is generally requested and produced at a bank ATM but is also frequently used or accessed through online banking or mobile banking at some banks and financial institutions. 

The mini statement provides brief descriptions of each transaction, giving the account holder an indication of what the transaction was for with the full description available to the account holders through their regular bank statement.  By providing a short term review of banking transactions, the mini statement allows bank customers to get a quick recap of their activities between monthly statements and avoid having to visit a branch.

ATM mini statements may have a small fee associated with their production depending on the bank and at which electronic terminal was used to produce the mini statement, such as an ATM where the bank account is held, an ATM not or owned or operated by the bank where the account is held, or via online banking or mobile banking.

How Long is a Cashier’s Check Good For?

Cashier’s checks do not have an expiration date.  A cashier’s check is valid and will remain an obligation of the bank that issued it until it is either paid or the state laws governing escheatment where the check was issued require the funds be turned over to the state.  Cashier’s checks are drawn on the issuing bank’s funds and not those of the remitter, the bank, rather than the purchaser is responsible for paying the amount identified on the check.  A cashier’s check is issued only after the bank issuing it has received or approved the funds to back the amount of the check and the bank becomes the responsible party for payment not the remitter.

While standard checks are good for a period of six months, after which a bank is not required to honor the check, a cashier’s check is not subject to the same rule.  With a cashier’s check, the bank has to honor the payment for the check unless the check has been reported stolen, lost, replaced, or the check funds have been turned over to the sate due to escheatment laws. 

The escheatment laws are state laws that direct financial institutions to turn over unclaimed or abandoned property to the state after a specific period of time has expired and the bank cannot locate the owner of the funds.  The time period varies by state but usually requires two or more years to pass by before the property or funds are considered abandoned and unclaimed.  The cashier’s check itself is not sent to the state, it is the funds the bank has held on behalf of the remitter to guarantee or fund the check.

Even after the funds used to pay for the cashier’s check have been turned over to the state after the escheatment period has been met, claims can be made to the state agency that acts as caretaker for the abandoned funds to recover the money.

Who Can Endorse a Check Made Out to Cash?

Checks made payable to cash can be endorsed by anyone.  Because a check payable to cash can be endorsed by anyone, making a check payable to cash is a practice that should be used infrequently due to the significantly higher risk of loss.  In fact, a check payable to cash is considered a bearer instrument.  Bearer instruments do not, legally, need an endorsement.  A bearer instrument, including a check payable to cash, is payable to whoever holds it.

Even though the law governing contracts and negotiable instruments does not require a signature on a check made payable to cash, the bank will generally require an endorsement signature.  The bank where the check is being cashed will usually request that the person negotiating the check at the bank branch sign or endorse the back of the check.  Furthermore, many banks are reluctant to negotiate a check made out to cash if it is presented by someone other than the account holder. 

The banks concern is that the check may be in the possession of someone that the account holder did intend to receive it.  When the bank does negotiate a check payable to cash, the bank will often require the endorsement as well as proper identification of the individual cashing the check.  Of course, the holder of the check can always deposit the check and the bank should not require any additional documentation other than the deposit endorsement.

Can a Bank Freeze my Account Without my Permission?

It is legal and not uncommon for a bank to freeze a customer’s account without first notifying the account holder.  The bank may freeze an account due to suspicious activity, because the account has been frequently overdrawn, or the bank has received legal orders from a third party.  A bank account freeze means the banks has restricted activity with the account.  The account holder will generally no longer be able to withdraw money, pay checks, make financial transfers, or otherwise use the funds held in the account. 

Third party orders or instructions that require a bank to freeze an account may include court judgments from a creditor with a levy or garnishment order or orders presented by state or federal agency such as the IRS.  In all of these situations, the bank is not required to notify the account holder when the account will be frozen.  Accounts that are frozen due to legal action cannot be delayed by the bank so they can inform their customer when the legal levy or garnishment order is delivered. 

Actions a bank may take to freeze an account on its own are usually put in place to protect the customer or the bank and therefore, taking time to time to notify the customer in advance may defeat the purpose in trying to protect the account funds.  The bank may freeze the account to protect the customers in cases where there is suspicious account activity in which the bank believes transfers or payments are being made that are not authorized by the account holder, or the freeze may be to protect the bank in cases where the account is frequently overdrawn that may lead ultimately to an uncollected balance that results in losses for the bank.

Once the bank does place a freeze or holds funds in an account, the account holder should be able to get a complete explanation regarding the reason and any paper work related to the actions from the financial institution.

Can Judgments Be Attached to my Bank Account?

Creditors can, with some restrictions, use a judgment to collect money owed by an individual held in their bank account.  A creditor or other debt collector can use a judgment awarded through a court to garnish funds held in a bank account.  The creditor can request an order to garnish the debtor’s bank account only after obtaining a judgment against that debtor.  The bank will freeze the funds held in a customer’s account to satisfy a court order only after they receive the garnishment order. 

The bank account freeze will prevent the customer or account holder from accessing the funds in the account until a specified time period expires after which any applicable funds or non-restricted funds held will be turned over to the creditor.

Many government agencies such as the IRS can freeze a bank account without a judgment but most other creditors or debt collectors cannot freeze the funds held in a bank account until they first receive a judgment from a court against the bank account holder.

Once a creditor or debt collector does receive a judgment they will use that judgment to collect the amount called for by within the judgment order.  With the judgment, the creditor can try a number of means to collect the money from the debtor including an agreement with the debtor to make payments or making payment in full, obtaining a garnishment against the debtor wages, or by sending a garnishment order to the debtor’s bank.

If the judgment is used to garnish money in the defendant’s bank account it will be given to the creditor by the bank to help satisfy the judgment with some limitations regarding protected funds, escrow funds, joint funds, retirement and other protected income streams and federal benefits.

What are Foreign ATM Fees?

Foreign ATM fees are fees charged by a bank or credit union to their customers for using ATMs outside of their network.  Banking customers are charged this fee when they use an ATM that is not owned or operated by their financial institution.

Almost all banks and credit unions offer unlimited withdrawals from their own ATMs with no fee to their account holders.  But, once a customer uses an ATM that is not owned or affiliated with the bank where the ATM card is issued, the bank will tack on fee to their customer for using that ATM.  This fee, the foreign ATM fee, generally ranges from $2.00 to $3.00 per transaction..

The foreign ATM fee is separate from the charges that will are assessed by the owner of the ATM that is being used.  A surcharge fee is frequently imposed by the ATM owner; separate from the foreign ATM fee imposed by the account holder’s bank.  The surcharge fee is assessed by the ATM owner to users of the machine that do not have account or an affiliation with the institution operating the ATM.  Some banks and/or specific bank accounts reimburse or offer limited reimbursements on the ATM fees or surcharge fees that other banks charge.

The term foreign ATM fees is generally not used in reference to international ATM transactions or overseas transactions, these fees are usually identified by financial institutions as international ATM fees but may, in some cases, be referred to as a foreign ATM fees – adding some confusion to banking nomenclature.

Who Can Close a Checking Account?

For most checking accounts, any account holder can close the account as well as the bank where the account is held.  Section 4-403 of the Uniform Commercial Code establishes standard provisions that are adopted by most states regarding account control and access.  Per section 4-403 of the Uniform Commercial Code, any person authorized to draw on an account can close the account. 

Individual checking account holders can close their checking account as long as they follow the instructions provided by the bank.  Joint checking accounts can be closed in the same manner by either of the signatory parties on the account, either working together or acting alone.  Even an authorized signer or person acting under a pertinent power of attorney can close a checking account.

Occasionally, banks will restrict the rights of authorized signers who are not account holders.  In these particular cases, the bank’s deposit contract may prevent an authorized signer from closing an account as a means of protection for the account holder or holders.

The bank itself can also close a customer’s checking account without notice.  Most bank checking account agreements give the bank the right to close a customer’s account at any time for any reason.  Checking account holders who frequently write bad checks or overdraw their account may find that their bank will close their account without warning.  A 2008 Harvard Business School report titled, Bouncing Out of the Banking System: An Empirical Analysis of Involuntary Bank Account Closures reported that about 6.4 million bank accounts were involuntarily closed in 2005 by banks and other financial institutions. 

Bank customers should read their account agreement to verify the procedures for closing out an account to avoid any delays or other complications with pending payments or financial transfers.

Will a Returned Check from Someone Else Impact My Credit?

In most cases, a retuned deposit item will not affect an individual’s credit score or credit rating.  A check from someone else that has been deposited and then bounces is referred to as returned deposit item.  Once a deposit is returned or bounces, the funds are taken out of your account.  For account holders that have a surplus of money in their checking account, the only inconvenience will be the bank fee charged for the returned item and the costs associated with collecting from the person or party that sent the check that was returned

If the returned deposit item results in your checking account becoming overdrawn, the bank will expect you, the account holder, to cover the overdraft amount.  It is also possible that the subsequent negative balance may result in checks that you sent from your account to bounce or be returned.

If the checks sent from your account no longer have sufficient funds to cover them due to the returned deposit and bounce, the recipient of these checks may report any delinquent account activity to a credit reporting company.  This will generally only happen if the payment being made is not covered by a new payment in a timely fashion and the payment makes the account delinquent.  An example may be a credit card payment that bounces because your account is overdrawn after a check you deposited from someone else is returned and the monthly is now delinquent because of your bounced check.

In addition, if the bank is not made whole in a timely fashion because your account is overdrawn due to the retuned check you deposited from someone else, they may report the incident to the specialty credit reporting companies used in the banking industry.

The domino effect that can result from a retuned deposit item can also be ameliorated if the account holder making the deposit has overdraft protection through their bank.  While this does not stop the bank from charging fees or help collect the money on the returned deposit, it does lessen the costs that can result from checks written that would have bounced due to insufficient funds caused by the returned deposit but are now covered by the overdraft coverage provided by the bank.

Can a Check be Cashed if it is Ripped or Torn?

Whether or not a torn or ripped check can be cashed or deposited generally depends on the damage or the condition the check is in when it is presented the bank.  In most cases, a ripped check does not present a problem and can be processed like any other check deposited or delivered to a bank.  If the damage to the check is minor and it appears that there were no alterations done to the check, the bank should accept it as is.

Situations that may require the check holder to obtain a replacement check include checks that are missing key information such as the date, signature, payee field, dollar amount of the check, and the information found on the MICR line of the check which includes the bank routing number and the check writer’s account number.

A bank may reject the check if the condition of the check makes either reading the data difficult or establishing the check writer’s intention is questionable.  If a check writer had ripped up a check with the intent to invalidate it, the check is void.  If someone taped it back together, the bank would in a tough position to determine the writer’s intent and it would be reasonable for the bank to refuse to honor the check or place a longer hold on it.

What are the Risks with a Joint Checking Account?

Joint checking accounts offer account holders a number of benefits but, they also come with some potential risks.  A joint account subjects the account holders to risks involving loss of funds, credit exposure, and survivorship rights issues.

The risk of loss due to account mishandling by the other account holders is one of the biggest risks with this type of account ownership.  Each joint checking account owner has full control of the account without regard to whose money was deposited in the account or whether the other owner agrees with the purpose of a withdrawal.  Either joint account owner may withdraw the entire balance and wrongfully refuse to repay the other what is rightfully due. 

One account holder with a joint checking account has the potential to become liable for repaying the other person’s debt.  If the account becomes overdrawn, each joint account holder is responsible for the whole payment along with any bank fees and third party charges that may be incurred.  If one of the account holders has credit accounts at the same bank that fall in arrears, the bank can also use the money in the joint account to offset the past due debt. 

Risk of financial loss can also be the result of actions that take place outside of the joint checking account.  The money held in a joint checking account can be subject to both people’s creditors.  Court orders and legal orders against one account holder can freeze the funds in the entire account and the bank account balance may be seized to recover any money owed.

Questions and complications also may arise regarding survivorship after the death of one of the account holders.  If there is a right of survivorship with the joint account, the assets in the account will go entirely to one account holder when one person dies.  The money in a joint checking account will go directly to the other joint owner of the account and not to the people named in your will or heirs

Signing up for a joint bank account is often convenient and necessary, but all individuals involved should be aware the potential costs as well as the benefits before opening a new account.

Is Postdating a Check Legal?

There is nothing illegal about writing a postdated check.  Writing and sending postdated checks is a fairly common practice however, it is a practice that should be avoided in order to steer clear of any potential for liability.  Liability with a postdated check will generally not arise simply due to the date on the check but may surface should the check not clear the bank as scheduled by the check writer.

Problems with writing a postdated check generally surface if the check is deposited or cashed prior to the date of the check and there are insufficient funds in the account at that time to cover the check.  The check writer will then be responsible to make good on the payment, pay the fees charged by their bank for having either an overdrawn account or a returned item fee and may also be responsible for any fees incurred by the payee if their deposit is retuned by their bank.

The reason why the postdated check may clear before the future date placed on the check is the Uniform Commercial Code adopted by most states allows a bank to process and honor a check regardless of the date.  If an account holder postdates a check, and the payee cashes the check prior to that date, this is the date the funds will be taken from their account regardless of the date on the check.  Unless the bank is notified in advance about a specific check, the bank will process the check without being obligated to verify its date.

State laws regarding passing bad checks generally makes it a crime to intentionally write a worthless check with the intent to defraud a person or business of goods or services.  Since the writer of a postdated check is usually not doing this to intentionally defraud the recipient of the check, postdating a check is not a crime.