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 Check 21

Check 21: What You Should Know

Effective October 28, 2004, the Check Clearing for the 21st Century Act - commonly called "Check 21," brings the nation's check payment system into the digital age and allows consumers to benefit from better and faster financial services. The goal of Check 21 is to improve efficiency in check processing.

Check 21 is a new approach - it makes legal a Substitute Check, which is a digital picture of your original check which can be processed electronically. The Substitute Check shows the front and back with a magnetic ink character recognition (MICR) line and all of the check's routing information.

  • A substitute check is the legal equivalent of your original for all purposes including requirements of state and federal law.
  • The substitute check will feature, in bold print, a legend that states "this is a legal copy of your check - you can use it the same way you can use the original check."
  • A substitute check provides legal proof that you made a payment.
  • You may receive a substitute check when you request a copy of your check.

Check 21 took effect on October 28, 2004 and since then all financial institutions have been required to accept substitute checks the same way they are required to accept paper checks.

What are the Benefits for you?

  • Detects Fraud Faster - Since check clearing is faster, fraud can be detected and investigated sooner leading to a quicker resolution.
  • Faster Check Clearing - You get a more accurate picture of your account balance.
  • Quicker Response - Check images can be accessed faster to resolve questions.
  • More Secure Check Information - Checks do not have to be physically transported via truck, train, or plane.

  • You may receive a substitute check when you request a copy of your check.

(Remember - since Check 21 drastically reduces the amount of time it takes to move money from your account to pay those who receive your checks, you will need to have sufficient funds in your account to cover the payment at the time you write the check.)

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