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Bouncing checks

Sometimes your deposit and your debit don’t quite make it onto your checking account as planned. You look up your balance on the internet and the deposit is there. Are you safe in spending it?

Here is the story of a man in Georgia who does online banking. He made a deposit and checked his account and found the deposit was posted. Nothing was noted stating the deposit was on hold or the funds not available, so he wrote checks against this money. Several days later his bank returned his checks with fees for insufficient funds; stating the deposit was on hold. This notification was after the deposit was posted on the online statement. To make matters worse for him were the fees that the bank charged for the “bounced” checks totaled $400.00.

Is what the bank did illegal? Hard to say, but should be looked into. Is $400 in overdraft fees outrageous? By most people’s point of view – definitely.

One thing for sure is that this does get you to start looking at the changes banks have made regarding check processing. About a year-and-a-half ago new regulations took effect with the idea to make checks clear more quickly. Previous to this, paper checks were physically delivered from one bank to the next with stops at processing centers along the way. When the paper check reach its final destination the funds were cleared.

All the paper transactions are now yielding to electronic transfers which has cut the time it takes to process paper checks. Current laws allow banks to scan the checks and zip them to where they need to go. This has also affected the number of check processing centers needed for such transactions. Therefore, a process that used to take days can now be done in just hours.

Unfortunately these changes in the rules on clearing checks did not change the rules on how long banks can put a deposit on hold. Another factor on the deposit hold is that not all deposits take the same time to clear. Out of state checks take up to five days to clear while in-state checks take on average two business days.

Under the Expedited Funds Availability Act, a deposit may clear on the same day or take up to 11 days if certain extraordinary circumstances apply, according to a spokeswoman at the Federal Reserve.

What about the overdraft charges? It is up to each bank to decide how much to charge. You should check the account rules and regulations for full details regarding what your bank charges could be.

The Georgia man should give customer service a call, ask to speak to a supervisor and then ask them to explain exactly what he was being charged for and request these fees be dropped completely. Banks and credit card companies will often remove late penalties, transfer fees and other seemingly endless charges “as a special courtesy� to customers who call up and complain or suggest leaving the bank for another.

Have you left a bank account dormant for any period of time and then forgot about it? If this could be something you have done, then your account would be turned over to the state as unclaimed property. To find out if you have any unclaimed property or unclaimed cash go to www.CashUnclaimed.com. This company was founded to help you find your money no matter which state is holding it. One entry of your name searches all state and federal databases. You are also given information on how to go about claiming your found money.

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