Accepting a personal check from someone...and how unhelpful their bank can be

I haven’t accepted a personal check from anyone in…I can’t remember how long but recently accepted one in exchange for a used dryer I was replacing. While I knew the person by his public credentials I didn’t personally know him. I remember decades ago you used to be able to call an issuer’s bank and simply ask if the check would clear. Apparently now banks want the owner’s permission simply to answer that & without that they suggest the check holder (me) contact this person myself…kind of a worthless run-around! I called my own credit union to ask if this is their policy and apparently this is normal now everywhere. So now accepting a check you can’t call to ask if it’ll clear AND if it bounces (after about 3 weeks) you’re hit with a bounced check fee. Fortunately this check did clear but shesh, probably the very last personal check I’ll accept in this lifetime lol.

When I was doing rentals, I took their first check usually for Security Deposit/First Months Rent to the tenants bank for payment. Seldom, there was Insufficient funds and they would not cash it. I did this before giving the keys.

From then on, I accepted their checks and deposited them in my bank with no problems. Was the check on a local Bank or CU?

I’m thinking a lot of banks are pushing Zelle so that discourages verifying personal checks.

To my knowledge, I don’t think Zelle, Venmo, and CashApp don’t have consumer protection

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If the fellow presenting the check has his bank’s app on his phone just ask him to show you his balance. If not ask him to give you an ATM statement showing the balance.

It seems unlikely to me that someone who has his bank’s app on his phone would write a check, rather than use Venmo, paypal, etc. Maybe such a person exists.

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It might be due to the fact that many banks make lots of easy money by convincing customers of the “wisdom” of enrolling in the bank’s “check protection” schemes.

They sound innocuous and reasonable at first blush, but many folks are unpleasantly surprised when they are charged $25 o $50+ for “overdraft protection” fees for $10 check that got by them due to bad timing or forgetfulness.

The fees charged for that “protected” ten-dollar check can cascade into even more checks being “protected” an accompanied by additional fees.


I have my bank’s app on my phone, but don’t use venmo, zelle or the like at all, and only use paypal from my computer.

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You’re halfway there. Now go ask a stranger to accept a personal check.

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So far I’ve never had a problem…

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First, it shouldn’t take 3 weeks. Banks are required to pay or deny a check within 24 hour of receiving it. But if there is a branch in your city, drive to that bank, present it for payment and if there aren’t enough funds - they won’t pay it. One caveat…in today’s “fee friendly” world, if there IS enough in the account, they will likely charge a “non customer check cashing fee”.

These days I only had to use a check to renew passports or to make a band fee payment for my daughter’s school. The first would only accept checks as payment. For the second they did allow credit card payments, but since they would lose the credit card fees I wrote the check so that they would keep the full amount.

Side note: I told them before that if they are going to accept credit card payments, they need to add a fee on top of that, as do many other organizations, so that they do not take a hit form credit card payments. They still have not done so, which is one reason I am not all that impressed with this guy.

As for receiving a check, if I was selling something I would not accept a check these days. As has been discussed, Venmo and Zelle work fine, and in the worst case the buyer can give me cash.

Do the check writer and recipient (payee) get hit with a fine when a check bounce?

I haven’t accepted a check in about 4 years, but when I did, I would walk into THEIR bank and ask if I was able to cash it. They would look it up on the spot and confirm yes or no. It was never no because, well I guess I don’t do business with sketchy people. If it was an out of area bank, I’d just deposit it and worry about it when the time came.

We used to only take Certified Checks / Money Orders for Security Deposit and 1st months rent, but now with online property management platforms you can do everything electronically. We require all of our tenants to use the electronic platform for all payments.

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Another way is to open a credit union account near the rental and have them deposit the monthly rental payment into an account just for that specific property. It doesn’t cost anything to have multiple accounts, one for each rental.