What is Check 21?
Basically, Check 21 allows banks to replace original paper checks with substitute checks that are made from digital copies of the originals. Substitute checks are legal documents which can be used from proof of payment or for any other reason that might require an original or cancelled check.
Why was Check 21 created?
Check 21 was created to reduce the time, risks and costs associated with processing paper checks. Currently, checks travel on trains, planes and automobiles during the clearing process. When Check 21 becomes effective October 28, 2004, banks will be able to send digital images of checks electronically, eliminating the need to physically transport paper checks between banks. Check 21 will also reduce uncontrollable transportation delays that can be caused by weather or natural disasters.
What does Check 21 do?
Check 21 will create a more efficient check processing system, without changing the way consumers write checks. It simply requires banks and customers to accept paper copies of their original checks called substitute checks.
What is a substitute check?
A substitute check is a paper copy of the digital image of your original check. These checks are similar in size to original checks with a slightly reduced image of the front and back of the original check. The front of a substitute check states; “This is a legal copy of your check. You can use it the same way you would use the original check.”
Check 21 legislation sets standards for quality and allows for substitute checks to be legal copies of the originals. All banks must accept the substitute check as they would the original document.
How will Check 21 impact me?
If you receive your cancelled checks with your statement, you may receive a mix of substitute checks and original checks. If you don't receive your checks back today, you may not notice any change at all.
Can I continue writing checks as I do today?
Yes, you may continue banking and writing checks as you do today. Check processing will be faster with the implementation of Check 21. Funds may be removed from your account sooner than in today's system; therefore there will be less float time. As always, make sure you have enough money in your account before writing a check.
Is Check 21 mandatory?
Check 21 does not mandate electronic processing of digital check images. It simply makes it possible. For banks that choose to process checks manually, a substitute check will be made of the image, which will be processed as if it were the original.
When will Check 21 take effect?
Check 21 was signed into law October 28, 2003 and becomes effective October 28, 2004.
Are substitute checks an acceptable proof of payment?
Yes, everyone must accept substitute checks beginning October 28, 2004.
What are my rights regarding a substitute check?
In certain cases, federal law provides a special procedure that allows you to request a refund for losses you suffer if a substitute check is posted to your account (for example, if you think that we withdrew the wrong amount from your account or that we withdrew money from your account more than once for the same check).
How do I make a claim for a refund?
Please make your claim by calling us, by writing to us, or by e-mailing us at the following:
Bank of the James
828 Main Street
Lynchburg, VA 24505
What happens to my original check?
After taking a digital image, the bank may destroy your original check. If necessary, a substitute check may be created. Since substitute checks are legal copies of your original check, there is no need to save the original.
What if I need a copy of my cancelled check?
Contact us. We will produce a copy for you. Copies or images of a check have been used and accepted for decades as proof of payment, including by the IRS.
How will I benefit with Check 21?
You may have earlier access to your funds and faster, more convenient access to information about your checks - such as online images.
You'll have better fraud protection. Faster processing means faster detection and faster resolution.
If you detect a problem because of a substitute check, Check 21 requires that the bank re-credit your account, pending an investigation.
What items are subject to Check 21?
All checks, including cashier's checks, payroll checks, personal checks and business checks are subject to Check 21. Savings bonds are not checks and therefore are not subject to Check 21.
How does Check 21 relate to electronic check conversion (e-check)?
Check 21 involves creating digital images of original checks, but they are still processed under the same laws and regulations as paper checks.
Electronic check conversion, or e-check, occurs when a check is converted into an electronic funds transfer. The transaction is then routed through the Automated Clearing House (ACH) network, the same system used by Direct Deposit.
On your monthly statement, a substitute check will be listed with your other checks; an e-check will be listed with other electronic funds transfers, such as automated debits for health club memberships or a payment setup with a utility company.
For more information about Check 21 legislation and electronic check conversion, visit the Federal Reserve Board internet site.