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Electronic Check Questions and Answers

Check Writing

The advent of electronic check processing ushered in faster processing and check clearing times. Checks can now clear in a matter of hours rather than days.

Faster processing can introduce potential consequences such as bounced checks, NSF fees, possible security and stop payment issues.

Let DCU help you to maneuver through the usage of electronic checks.

Bouncing Checks, NSF Fees, and Deposits

I have read that now I will be more likely to bounce checks and be charged NSF fees. What is this all about?

Response: Because checks may be converted to an electronic check file the checks may clear more quickly than you've been used to over the years. If you've previously relied on the few days a paper check usually takes to clear – you may be more likely to bounce a check. To avoid bouncing checks and incurring any fees, do not write a check unless there is enough money in your checking account to clear the check.

What happens if I'm depositing a check into my account to cover checks that I've already written?

Response: All of your deposits should be made before you write your checks. When you deposit funds to cover checks that you have already written, you risk facing overdraft charges if the deposited funds are not available before the checks that you wrote are presented to clear against your account.

If the checks that I write are going to clear faster, does that mean that checks I deposit into my account will clear sooner too?

Response: They may, but there is no way to tell when a deposit is made. The Check 21 legislation does not impact the hold times that are allowed to be placed on deposited items by the Expedited Funds Availability Act although this may be reviewed in the future.

Sometimes I write checks when I don't actually have the funds in my account. I know that there is a float period, so my checks won't clear immediately. What happens with an Electronic Check?

Response: If your check is transmitted electronically - the float will disappear or at the very least be dramatically reduced. To avoid bouncing checks and incurring any fees, do not depend on a float period anymore. You should only write checks when you have those funds available in your checking account.

How quickly could an Electronic Check clear?

Response: If an institution converts a check to an electronic image, the check could clear within hours.

Is DCU converting the checks that I deposit into electronic checks files?

Response: Yes. DCU does electronically convert checks deposited at DCU.

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Stop Payments

I have heard that now it will be harder for me to stop a check that I wrote from my account. Why would this happen?

Response: If you wrote a check and it was converted to an electronic check file, you would have less time to place a stop payment on the check because the check will clear faster. Do not write a check with the thought that you can place a stop payment on it later if you change your mind.

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Substitute Checks

I keep hearing this term "substitute check." Can you explain exactly what this is?

Response: A substitute check is a paper copy of a check that was created from an electronic check file. The financial institution that created or first handles the substitute check warrants it is an accurate and legible reproduction of the original item.

Is there any way to tell which of my checks will be converted?

Response: Not really, because it can happen anywhere during the check clearing process.

What does a substitute check look like?

Response: The substitute check contains a copy of the front and back of the original item, as well as special reference information. It is about the same size of a standard business check. The front of the substitute check MUST bear the legend/statement "This is a LEGAL COPY of your check. You can use it the same way you would use the original check." substitute check

I have read that if I want to get a copy of a check, I should ask for a substitute check because I'll have more rights.

Response: This is very misleading. If your original check was not converted to an electronic image for processing, there is no substitute check to get. A substitute check replaces the original check. If none of the institutions involved in the clearing process of your check converted the check to an electronic image, there will not be a substitute check because one was never created.

What if I need the original check that was written from my account? I've heard that now I won't be able to get my original check back.

Response: Original checks aren't available now. If the check that you wrote is turned into a substitute check, the substitute check has the same validity as the original check. Yet, regular check copies have long been accepted for things like proof of payment, etc.

I read that there are no limits on what institutions can charge for substitute check fees. Will I be charged fees for substitute checks?

Response: DCU has no plans to charge substitute check fees.

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I'm uncomfortable with the idea of my check being converted to an electronic image. Is this secure?

Response: Electronic check processing is not a new concept in the financial industry. The technology used in processing checks this way has been developed and tested for security and has been in use in one form or another for years. We assure you that this is a safe and reliable way to process your checks.

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Errors and Consumers' Rights

When can I file an expedited recredit claim?

Response: You may file an expedited recredit claim if the following conditions are met: you received an actual substitute check (not just a copy of the original); your account was charged for a substitute check; the substitute check was incorrectly charged or you have a warranty claim in regards to the substitute check; you suffered a resulting loss, AND the production of the original check or a sufficient copy of the original check is necessary to deem whether or not the substitute check was incorrectly charged or whether your warranty claim is valid.

How do I file a claim when there is a substitute check involved?

Response: If you have a warranty or an indemnity claim, you can call our Information Center at 508.263.6700 or 800.328.8797, contact an E-Branch specialist, or go to the DCU branch nearest to you. If you have an expedited recredit claim, you must complete a form in order for us to process the claim. Remember, you can only file an expedited recredit claim when you have suffered a loss due to a substitute check and have physically received the actual substitute check. If you received a copy of a substitute check, you cannot file an expedited recredit claim but errors will of course still be corrected in a timely manner. To file an expedited recredit claim, contact our Information Center or an E-Branch specialist, visit our website at, or visit the DCU branch nearest to you to fill out the form.

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What about detecting fraud?

Response: Because the check processing time is quicker, we believe that fraud may be detected sooner.

I have read that a substitute check will not be as useful as the original in proving forgery or alteration.

Response: Unfortunately, in certain cases the original check would be more useful in proving fraud. These instances include determining pen pressure used in writing the check and handwriting analysis. In general, for best image quality and fraud detection, always use black ink when writing a check.

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