Some Personal Check Facts:
On the bottom of the check you will see a series of digits. Those are routing numbers that identify your bank and your bank account. The numbers are ink filled with iron so scanners can read them.
Take a look at the bottom right of one of your unused checks. Notice that it is blank. After the check is cashed and comes back to you with your statement, you will see that the space is now filled with numbers. What are they? That shows you how much money was taken out of your checking account. Make sure that number matches the number you hand-wrote on the check.
A certified check is a step-up in security from a personal check. In fact, it is a personal check that your bank guarantees is able to cover the amount to be paid.
In order to certify a check, your bank will put a hold on your account for the amount of money that you are paying with the check. The bank will then stamp your personal check as "Certified".
The reason for using a certified check is that a stranger may want assurance that there is enough money in your bank account to cover the payment.
The cashiers check offers a higher level of guarantee than the two previous checks because the funds are drawn against the bank itself. You deposit the check amount into the bank's own account. This can be done by giving the teller a personal check or by electronic transfer. The bank will then issue a printed check signed by an authorized employee with the amount you wish to pay along with the payee's name.
Since the check isn't coming from your account, you won't get a copy sent to you in your statement after it was cashed. You do however, get a carbon copy of the certified check at the time you order it.
False Sense of Security
Even though the bank developed these products as a way to ensure against fraud, security protections are not foolproof. With computer printers getting better every year, some criminals can produce convincing looking certified checks and cashier's checks.
If you are planning on accepting payment, one of the best methods of protecting yourself against fraud is to accompany the person to the bank to witness the check being certified or printed by the bank. It may be more of a hassle, but far less stressful than discovering you have been victimized by a false check.
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