What is a Certified Bank Check?
A certified bank check is an official check certified and acknowledged by the bank. The bank ensures the check’s recipient that the holder indeed has an ample amount of money in his/her account to cover the check when it was written. This is requested and signed by the holder and the signature is verified by an officer of the bank. It’s then marked as “accepted” or “certified”. Therefore, certified bank checks don't “bounce”. It can be converted into cash as long as it’s verified by the bank.
Why use a Certified Bank Check?
Certified bank checks are commonly used in large transactions where cash, credit and personal check payments can be impractical and risky, especially for sellers, suppliers or recipients who still have doubts about their client or sender’s credibility. They are used for down payments or if the recipient needs enough proof that the check will not bounce. Using a certified bank check guarantees to remove doubt and cut fraud risks.
This type of check is used in releasing loan money or in purchasing a house and lot, car, and anything very expensive. Although there is a small service charge, most businesses prefer to use a certified bank check.
Certified Bank Check vs. Cashier's Check
Both a cashier check and a certified bank check are official. In a cashier check, the sender/buyer gives the amount required to the bank which in turn issues and guarantees the check. The bank also owns liability to the check. Another name for a certified check is a “bank check”.
There is only a slight difference between the two. A certified bank check is like a cashier check but the amount is not necessarily given before the check is issued. It directly accesses a bank account to certify that the amount of the check is enough.
How to Get a Certified Bank Check
Basically, you can get a certified bank account in banks where you have your personal checking account because this type of check need direct access to the account where amount certification and verification will be based upon. This is not free and service charge varies depending on the bank and their policies (amount of the check, bank discretion, etc.). Here are the simple steps on how to get a certified bank check.
Ensure you have enough money in the bank for the desired amount of the check. Include the service charge in your computation and consider your bank’s required maintaining balance, if applicable.
Have supporting identification and documents for account verification. (government license, professional license, driver’s license, etc.)
Talk to a bank teller and ask for help. Explain in details the purpose of issuing the certified bank check. The teller will have your account and your balance verified.
Once verified, the bank teller will ask you to write the check. Fill-in the required information, such as the name of the recipient of the check and your clear, valid and updated signature.
The bank teller will then stamp a certified seal on your bank check.
Be vigilant. Record the details of your certified bank check, such as the exact amount written, and the check number.
After this, you may present you certified bank check to your recipient.
How to Trace a Certified Bank Check
As much as certified bank checks can almost be viewed as cash and reduce risks, it is still a check and not cash. Others may still question its validity and doubt whether payment has been made. In case this happens, it is suggested to trace a certified bank check to see if it has been cashed or used already as payment.
The first action might be to contact the recipient. But of course, this may not always result in expectations. Some recipient might not be that cooperative. In case it works out for you, ask the recipient if he has used or cashed the check and the date.
Contact the Bank
In case direct contact with the recipient doesn’t work, contact your check’s issuing bank. They can easily trace by checking its transaction records to see if the certified bank check has already been presented as payment. Moreover, the bank can also detect if the check has been deposited to another bank, if not, the same bank. You can also ask the bank for other transaction details.
Protection from Fraud
Certified bank checks are to be used confidently but in the case of fraud, different rules may apply. Banks usually need an official report from the police before they help you any further. To prevent problems, make sure to watch your check. If it hasn’t been used as payment, cashed, or deposited within 90 days, consider filing a declaration of loss. Ask for the help of a lawyer with the process and to notarize necessary documents.
Recipients, however, get into more trouble than payees when it comes to checking payments so it’s important to check on the legitimacy of the certified bank check before accepting it. While some counterfeit has grammatical and typographical errors as common indicators, some bouncing checks don’t, and even have bank logos and check details that might look convincing.
Once in doubt, don’t take any chances. Detecting frauds manually get tougher and tougher so it’s advisable to seek the help of the bank to recognize whether the check is fake or not. Don’t assume that you won’t be victimized. If you think going to your bank is a hassle, you can simply call the bank instead, and have the check number and purchaser’s name verified.