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Checks are Changing with Check 21

What is “Check 21” all about?

A new check clearing process, called "Check 21," will change the way your checks clear. Check 21 will improve today's existing system that forces checks to be exchanged physically and often transported around the country several times before the payment cycle is complete.

Check 21 allows a new approach…it makes legal a "substitute check" which is a digital picture of your original check which can be processed electronically.


How will this affect me?

Check 21 will affect you in three ways:

  1. Checks will clear faster. This means it's wise to have enough money in your checking account at the time of purchase to cover the payment. "Playing the float" will no longer work with some merchants and could result in non-sufficient funds fees and/or the check bouncing.

  2. Detects fraud faster. Since check clearing is faster, fraud can be detected and investigated sooner which brings about a quicker resolution.

  3. Right to Investigation. Members now have a right to an investigation by their credit union if an error occurs.

When does Check 21 start?

Check 21 became effective on October 28, 2004 and that is when all financial institutions will have to accept substitute checks the same way they are required to accept paper checks.

As you receive your statement, you may also see some information about the substitute checks mentioned above. Remember, the substitute check contains exactly the same information shown on your original check and it is considered a legal equivalent.


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