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OCC: New Advisory Explains Check Clearing

The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) issued a consumer advisory giving consumers important facts about their rights when using checks to make payments.

The advisory, "Writing a Check: Understanding Your Rights," discusses the different ways checks can be processed, and the significance for consumers of those differences. On the second page, the different clearing processes are illustrated in such a manner that any depositor can understand how transactions go from bank to bank.

The four pages explain very clearly that many checks are now being processed electronically, which may mean that funds are taken from a depositor's account more quickly than before. They also stress the fact that it is even more important that account holders are careful to assure that they have enough money in their accounts to cover checks at the time they write them. They also make clear the fact that when checks are processed electronically, the original paper check is not required to be preserved and is often destroyed instead of being returned to the depositor.

The advisory also discusses the different laws and regulations governing check transactions, how consumers' rights may vary depending on how a check is processed, and how depositors may resolve problems if something goes wrong.

The OCC even advises depositors that if they have problems with a check transaction that they cannot resolve with their bank, they can contact their bank's regulator for help. The last page includes the web sites of these agencies, and advice on how to find the right agency to contact. If depositors are still having a hard time understanding Check 21, or if they have a problem with a substitute check, customer service people can find "Writing a Check: Understanding Your Rights" on the OCC's website,

It is available to all even if OCC is not your regulator.

Copyright © 2005 Bankers' Hotline. Originally appeared in Bankers' Hotline, Vol. 15, No. 8, 8/05

First published on 08/01/2005

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