Can you verify funds on a check somebody writes you? It may be helpful to know if the check will bounce ahead of time. You can avoid bank fees if you verify funds, and you can start taking steps to collect a valid payment from the person.
Contact the Bank
To verify funds on a check, contact the bank the money is coming from. Find the bank’s name on the check, and then look up their phone number. It is best to verify funds using a phone number you find on your own (from the bank’s website, for example). If you just call a number printed on a check and the check is fake, you’ll end up talking to a fake 'banker'.
Some banks make it difficult to verify funds. They may require you to visit a branch or pay a fee, and they might even refuse to verify funds for their customers. At the least, they should eventually tell you if the account exists. From there, you’ll have to take your chances.
What do you Know?
If you speak with somebody at the bank, consider what you really know.
You might find that there is enough money in the account at the time you made the phone call (or as of that morning), but it doesn't necessarily mean you'll get paid. There are numerous issues that can arise:
- What happens if the check writer goes to the bank and withdraws cash before you deposit the check (and the check actually makes its way over to the bank)?
- What if the person who gave you the check is not the real owner of that checking account (somebody else has plenty of money, but once they find out that a fraudulent check went against their account you'll be out of luck)?
- What if other withdrawals and debits hit the check writer's account before the check does?
Verifying funds gives you information, but it does not give you a guarantee. Unfortunately, you can't place a hold on those funds yourself - you'll only get paid if there are funds available when you present the check to the paying bank.
If you're really concerned, you can speed up the process by visiting the paying bank in-person and trying to cash the check. You may have to pay a fee if you don't have an account at that bank. Otherwise, it may be wise to wait a while before spending money from any checks you have doubts about.
Return to How and Where to Deposit Checks.