What is a Certified Check?
Certified check refers to a check where the issuer bank provides a guarantee on behalf of the account holder that they have an adequate amount of cash available in the account to honour the demand of the recipient of the check. Additionally, it is also used to verify the authenticity of the account holder’s signature on the check and only comes into play when the recipient of the check is not confident regarding the creditworthiness of the account holder.
How Certified Check Works?
The steps involved are as follows –
- The depositor or writer of the check visits a bank in person.
- A bank employee verifies that the depositor is an account holder of the bank and has adequate funds available to pay for the check.
- After verification, the bank adds a stamp and a signature to the check along with relevant terms and conditions.
- The check is validated for a period of 60 to 90 days.
- After that till the day of the expiry of the check’s validity, the bank ensures that the check writer maintains an adequate fund level to honour the check.
The banks usually charge a fee for issuing these checks, and the fee is dependent on the type of account, account holder’s relationship tenure, and transaction amount. Typically, the cost of this check varies in the range of $5 to $15.
Example of Certified Check
Let us assume that John Doe, who purchased a new flat recently is required to make any advance payment to close the deal. The broker requested John to write a certified check for the payment. John then visited a local branch of the bank where he has an account and wrote a check in favour of the brokerage firm. The bank official then checked and confirmed the availability of funds in the account and issued this check for a certain fee.
When to Use It?
In the case of large transactions, people usually use certified checks primarily when the writer of the check is not known to the recipient, and hence there is a trust gap. Basically, this check bridges the trust gap that is otherwise there in case of a personal check. It ensures that the funds are secure and provides peace of mind to the recipient.
It is also used instead of cash payment as it is considered to be as liquid as cash. So, instead of handling a large volume of cash, it is much more convenient to use a certified check to make large payments. Further, it also fulfils the immediate requirement of funds, and the recipient doesn’t need to wait for the check to clear.
How to Avoid Fraud with Certified Checks?
A certified check is one of the favourite tools for scammers and fraudsters. Typically, these fraudsters would write a fake check and ensure that the merchandise is delivered well before the scam comes to the surface. As such, when the recipient receives a certified check, then he/ she should contact the issuing bank in the below-mentioned ways and verify whether or not the check is legitimate:
- By checking the phone number on the check because a counterfeit certified check is most likely to have a fake phone number.
- The recipient can also take the check and visit the local branch of the issuing bank and request the money immediately. In the case of fake checks, the teller will be able to spot the problem.
Why Use a Certified Check?
- It helps in the safe execution of larger transactions where cash payment may be highly risky and inconvenient.
- It is safer to accept a certified check as compared to a personal check.
- It guarantees the immediate availability of funds on demand.
- It reduces the possibility of fraud.
- The check writer is unable to revoke the payment once issued.
This has been a guide to what is a certified check and its definition. Here we discuss how does it work along with their cost, examples, and uses. You may learn more about financing from the following articles –