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Verify Funds on That Check Before You Cash It

This article was written by in Banking. 71 comments.


While working at Bank of America, I learned a magic phrase that I hadn’t heard before: “verify funds.”

When someone writes you a check (I know, it’s 2009, but even I use them sometimes for plumbers or whatnot), you may feel uncomfortable about whether the check author has enough money to cover it. If you’ve ever deposited a “funny” check, particularly for a large amount, you know how painful it can be to have the money credited and then later taken back out. Fortunately, sometimes you can find out in advance if the check is good.

In general, you call the bank that houses the check author’s account, provide them the check information and they’ll tell you either yes or no. Of course, even if they say yes, that information is only foolproof for about the next 3 seconds, since any number of things could happen before you deposit or cash the check, but it’s better than not knowing.

Ironically, it’s more useful when they tell you, “No, funds aren’t currently available to cover that check,” because now you have options.

  • You can keep trying every day until funds are available
  • You can contact the check author and work out a different method of payment
  • You can decide never to do business with that person again

I did a little research for us all and called the top 6 national banks (some of them several times) and asked whether they would verify funds for a third party (the recipient of the check). Here are the results:

Name of Bank Over the phone? In person?
Bank of America No Yes
Chase Yes Yes
Wells Fargo Yes Yes
Citibank No Yes
PNC Bank Yes (for a $5 fee)
1-900-988-4762
No (but every other bank said Yes, so…)
U.S. Bank Yes Yes

If you’ve had an experience lately that doesn’t match the table, please leave a comment and I can revisit my findings.

Published or updated May 12, 2009. If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the RSS feed or receive daily emails. Follow @ConsumerismComm on Twitter and visit our Facebook page for more updates.

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About the author

Smithee formerly lived primarily on credit cards and the good will of his friends. He is a newbie to personal finance but quickly learning from his past mistakes. You can follow him on Twitter, where his user name is @SmitheeConsumer. View all articles by .

{ 71 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar MyJourney

Smithee,

My Pops is a landlord and he has been burned SO MANY times with bounced checks, after witnessing this for the 90th or so times, I just asked, “why not just verify before depositing?” He had never thought of it!

Good advice.

Also another trick is…cash it at their bank, right on the spot after verifying. Then bring the cash to your checking account where it will credited right away. It may take a few mins longer, but at least you know all is safe.

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avatar Vanessa Arroyo

That is absolutely awesome advice. Not EVERYTHING in life has to be done the quickest, most “convenient” way. It is very much worth the extra time and effort when it is concerning my MONEY!

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avatar Gordon

So true. I’m a landlord, and so far, I’ve been very fortunate. I don’t verify funds on tenants who have been with me for a little while without missing a beat – but I do always verify the funds of the security deposit, and of the application fee.

If the bank won’t verify funds over the phone, I go in in person and make a big production about it, cash the check at their branch, and let them know that this would’ve been easier for both of us if they had allowed me to verify funds over the phone. Chase Bank, for non-Chase accountholders, will now only verify that it’s a valid account. Good enough for me to make a decision on an applicant, I guess. I will still cash in person just because. :)

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avatar JayInDC

I routinely call Bank of America to verify funds available on my tenants’ checks, never had a problem, maybe it depends who you talk to and whether or not you give a reason.

Also, I used to always just cash checks at the bank they were drawn on, but I have found that in the past few years most banks have changed their policies so that a fee is charged (usually $10 or more per check) if the person cashing the check does not have an account with them. I couldn’t believe it the first time this happened to me.

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avatar Derrick

What is the number you used to verify funds for bank of America accounts

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avatar Dave

I should have done what MyJourney suggested a few months ago. I got burned by a previous employer of all things.

How you ask? Well, in 2008 I was part of a downsizing. Not that big of deal really, b/c I had other reasons to quit. But part of the severance was getting the bonus for the % of the year worked (roughly 50% of what I could have gotten if I had stayed). Time passes and here in Feb 2009, I get that promised check. Within a few days, I deposit the check.

Here’s the kick in the teeth. Not 3 days after I deposited it, my ex-employer filed for bankruptcy. The bank then came back, withdrew the “given” funds”, and hit me with a bounced check fee. Took about a month to find someone to remove that fee. Luckily enough my wife and I didnt -need- that money. But if we had been less careful in general that stunt could have caused major problems.

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avatar Bailey

Wells Fargo will NOT verify funds, only that the account is valid and open. Their policy regarding such is here: https://www.wellsfargo.com/biz/help/verification.

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avatar Chase BM

I am a branch manager at Chase and it is the bank’s policy not to verify funds on a check over the phone. However, like it is stated above, you can verify funds in person. You may have contacted a rogue branch or two that wasn’t familar with this policy. And like someone else said, if you always work with the same person on that branch then they may extend that courtesy to you on an exception basis.

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avatar Travis Werner

I was written a check by a person who banks at the same bank i bank with.I went the our bank and i cashed the check for the amount of 4500 dollars.The bank told me it would take a few minutes to verify the signature of the check and if the funds were available in the other persons acount.Every thing checked out and the bank cashed the check.I took half of it in cash and put the rest in my checking acount.Three days later the bank called me and told me they over drafted my acount and i needed to bring them the money back.I asked why and they said the person who wrote the check had passed away and thet closed the acount because the check was writen from a line of credit.Not anything i did wrong but they said they made a mistake and the check was cashed on good faith.Is that legal or should i persue the bank on the next level?
BTW
Its not a chase bank.My girl friend banks with you and loves the servise.I will be opening an acount with Chase as soon as my direct deposit comes good with my employer.Thanks for the 100 dollar coupon.

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avatar Keith Brady

The same thing happened to me but I kept the whole check in the account for 3 days. It cleared 2 days after I deposited it into my account but when I finally decide to use it my account is overdrafted 400 dollars. I am going to persue legal action on this cause if I do not the bank said they would prosecute me for not paying it bac. They gave me that same we cleared the check on good faith stuff. I only been with them for 2 months “good Faith”.

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avatar Jen Taylor

I beg to differ, I just verified funds over the phone on the merchant verification line, if you have an account with Chase, they will allow you to verify funds of another account holder. The number to do that is 1-800-935-9935, option 4. If you do not have an account with Chase, they will verify that it is a valid account.

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avatar dennis

Not entirely correct, this will only verify the validity of the account. It will not at all verify any funds availability. So the account could be overdrawn or have $10,000 in it….it just tells you whether the account is valid…unless you’re a chase account holder and then you can verify funds availability.

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avatar Dorena

This number worked for me. I tried to call the general information line first and the “telephone banker” I talked to said he was unable to verify funds since I wasn’t the account holder. I argued with him briefly, googled this site and argued some more. Then I let go and just did this. Worked fine – check verified.

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avatar charli

a lady had wrote me a check for 3250. since the money was in theaccount the next day i assumed it had cleared. two days later i have a balance of -2520 and i dont know what to do.

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avatar Chang-Xin Shi

If you are a business owner and hold a Chase account, you simply call this Chase number 800-242-7338 and follow their instructions you can verify a check.

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avatar Nhut Truong

A credit union in Wisconsin also refused to verify fund over the telephone. The banker requested that I either came in in person or fax in a copy of the check. Didn’t they know that not all people would have a fax machine. I was over 50 miles away from the credit union physical location, so get there in person is not possible.

In my opinion, the credit union is responsible to protect their clients financial data, however, by refusing the verification of a check written in the name of their institution, the credit union is also unintentionally committed fraud as they are encouraging their clients to go ahead and issue bad checks as their clients are now known that the bad checks wouldn’t be verified.

You did great on this issue, please keep on doing what you have done.

Regards,

Nhut Truong

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avatar Teri

I went to US Bank about two weeks ago to have them verify a rental deposit/first months rent check that I was going to cash on the spot (since the tenants wanted to move in on the 15th). They told me they could not verify it unless they tried to run it through, and since I wasn’t a US Bank customer, there was a $5 charge to do so. Same with Bank of America – $5 charge and they won’t verify without running it thru. Banks have started doing it this way because when they attempt to run it thru and the funds aren’t there, they still get to charge the check writer a bad check fee. And, you end up paying the $5 charge and may or may not walk out of there with any cash.

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avatar Sasha Merced

That’s not why they tell you they need to run it, it’s not to charge you the fee. They actually NEED to run it to know, the service is called positive pay, and the machine is the one that tells them if the check was actually issued or not. It’s the only way they have to accurately verify the check. Especially with business checks, sometimes they special services that a teller won’t even begin to understand, they have to use the machine first and foremost.

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avatar Brit

Wells Fargo will only verify an account is valid they will not verify a check is good or has funds unless you take the check into the bank..

Prior to that Wells Fargo use to have a 900# pay per call line to verify funds but as most businesses and phones have 900 block and merchants complained they did a way with that and now offer no verification at all..

Welcome to the 21st Century Wells Fargo

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avatar Joe

I just went to a TCF Jewel Branch to cash two checks. They informed me that their limit is $250, unless I open an account with them. I politely declined to open an account, and asked them to verify funds. No luck there either, stating privacy concerns.

For a second I thought I was on candid camera.

On their website it states that they do verify funds for a third party (which by the way makes a lot of sense). As an apartment building manager I get my fair share of bounced checks.

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avatar Mr Wood

I to could not verify funds on a account drawn on Chase Bank.
I no longer accept checks from any client that has a bank THAT WILL NOT VERIFY FUNDS! It is now Cash Only!

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avatar JAugust

Wachovia will not verify funds either. I was told to go to a branch to do so. Um They are primarily an online bank and the closest branch is over an hour away. Sucks because I will not try to cash a $3000 check if I do not know that it is valid.
The laws really suck that we as consumers are no longer protected against this kind of stuff.

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avatar di5c0rd1a

US Bank’s auto phone teller will only verify an account if the third party holds an account with USBank.

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avatar DIANA GONZALES

I WORK FOR AN ATTORNEY’S OFFICE IN SAN ANTONIO TEXAS. I CALLED WELLS FARGO BANK TO VERIFY FUNDS ON A CHECK WRITTEN TO OUR FIRM AND WAS TOLD THAT THEY DO NOT GIVE OUT THAT INFORMATION. THE ONLY INFO THEY GIVE YOU IS IF THE ACCOUNT IS ACTIVE OR NOT.

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avatar Kel

I was just informed by US Bank that they will not verify funds unless you are the account holder. This just bites when I need to see if the check is good to let these people who rented from me is good or not.

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avatar Jenny

Diana Gonzales – THANKS FOR SCREEMING THAT TO ALL OF US!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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avatar Janie

**screaming :)

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avatar JLH

Jenny: Could it be possible that Diana mistakenly left her ALL CAPS on? I overlooked it, just as I’m willing to overlook your misspelling “screaming.” Relax….life’s too short!

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avatar J

Check your state laws you may be better off depositing the check. If it bounces take out a warrant for the issuer’s arrest. It is fraud. Their attorney will call you when the bum gets thrown in jail asking how much you need to drop the charges.

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avatar Ly

I wonder if I can go after the person who wrote the check. The funds were verified, but then he withdrew them and closed his account! My credit union says I have to pay them and now. I can’t, am on S.S. and can pay them $50. a month, but why do I have to pay? He wrote the checks, (yes more than one).

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avatar Christmasjones

In case you get a check from BB&T, they have an automated funds verification system that is very easy to use. The number is 1-800-422-8010. Took less than a minute.

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avatar antonio

US Bank does have an automated 1-800 number to verify funds on. I use it every day.

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avatar Anjacea

Hello,

Do you have that number handy. I really need it.

Thank you

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avatar Stephanie

True – but you have to not only enter the account number that the check is drawn on but your account number as well. And, if you don’t have an account with US Bank, they will hang up on you. I have not, however, tried to verify funds using the account number that the check was written on as if it was my account number in order to side-step the system. I would think that would lead to legal issues if you pretended that account was yours.

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avatar Joyce

What is the 800 number for US Bank to verify funds on an account you have to cash a check on?

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avatar Tina

I recently received a personal check and the bank is Chase. I did try to call to verify funds on this check before I deposit it in my checking account, but they would not do so. My problem is there is no Chase Bank in my area, so what do I do??

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avatar Check Verification

I have used the universal 1-900-868-2995 number to verify checks and their validity. The number gives you the direct bank phone if the routing number is valid. If you have the person there giving you the check, you can have them call through to their bank with their 800# and when they enter in their Social Security number you can have them hand you the phone and check their actual balance yourself. All banks have this.

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avatar bella

that 900# did not work

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avatar Ashley

I just tried to verify a check for nearly $1,000, through Chase, and the automated system could only verify that it is a VALID account. Since I am not a customer of Chase, it doesn’t allow to me to check the AMOUNT. Super big bummer- I’d like to just deposit into my account and forget about it. It’s been sitting in my wallet for two days (over the weekend), and it looks now as if I’ll have to wait another few days for it to clear? It seems like there has to be a better system…

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avatar Monica Putka

Hi, just thought you’d like to know that you need to cross US bank off of that list. They refused to verify the funds of a check drawn on their bank for “privacy reasons.” Also, they charge a $5 fee to cash checks OFF OF THEIR BANK if you don’t have an account!!! Their response to my complaint was that I could open a free checking account in order to cash those checks, which I refuse to do on principle!!!

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avatar Michelle

You should call your banking commission and file a complaint about that one.

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avatar Janie

Well Fargo the same way with fee even if check drawn on that bank with an account holder there, AND they need two forms of ID, fishing license counts. unreal, so my pic and matching signature aren’t enough?! They say the privacy reasons are people could call asking about a check for 500 to see if you have that much money or not. and they don’t ‘really’ have a check. ugh. we have the same dilemma on a check we have tried cashing 6 times now. and the person is nowhere to be found, we lost out. I guess.

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avatar MJ

Banks have been charging those fees for years to non-account holders. I used to work at Fifth Third Bank. It is customary now. And remember, it is the Bank’s policy… not the teller’s policy to charge fees or not to verify funds.

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avatar KAL

Hi,
Everybody’s comments have been very helpful. I was wondering if anybody had the actual 800-numbers for the banks that will verify funds over the phone. I work in real estate and have several rental properties and it would be very helpful if I was able to call and verify that the funds are there even though it is not a 100% guarantee,

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avatar kristi

Wells Fargo does not verify funds, only accounts.

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avatar Jeanie Uhlik

Sorry, Smitty, I guess “personal protection” has effected even writing rubber checks, I spoke with Wells Fargo just a few minutes ago. They advised me the account was active, but would not verify funds. The only way to tell is I went into Wells Fargo in person and actually cashed the check for CASH. Never deposit these kinds of checks for the obvious reasons. Thanks for your service.

Thanks, “Stung too many times in Fresno”

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avatar leslie

ok here is a weird sit. My friend worked for a hotel they paid her with checks fromt here banl of america account. she went to BoA and cashed them. yesterday she tried to cash her last check and they told her that the account didn’t have any money and she needed to pay back the amount for the two previous cashed checks plus bounced check fees. she doesn’t have an account with them. can they do this?

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avatar Janie

well, they can ask, lol. I am not sure if they can actually ‘charge or sue’ her for that money… though if she had deposited the checks in her bank account and this happened they would have taken the money back from her, like they did to us, leaving us with 100′s in overdraft fees, because bills had been paid on that money and it was like 4 days after supposedly ‘clearing’. UNREAL.

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avatar Tom

Leslie,
The answer to your question is NO. The bank can not get the money back from you if you do not have an account with them. They should have NOT cashed the check in the first place if money wasn’t available. Seems to me that the issuer wrote some bad checks and their account was in the negative and the bank was trying to pull a fast one on you.

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avatar 4WeHelp Movers

When we have our movers out doing a residential move and they think the customer may be passing a bad check (its easy to spot), they call into our office and we call our local PNC. The PNC tellers at the local banks always just looked it up right over the phone.

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avatar mlh

FYI, Citibank will not verify funds availability on a personal or business check. Releasing any information about a client’s account would be violating the client’s confidentiality.

In any case, verifying if the money is available in an account AT THAT VERY SECOND is meaningless anyway, even if you try and deposit that check immediately. If you deposit a check written from Bank A into your account at Bank B, that money is not transferred between the banks immediately — it takes a couple of days for Bank B to verify that check at Bank A is good (unless the check is over $2500, in which case Bank B *must* verify within 24 hours, as per E.A.R.N.S.). Furthermore, transactions on accounts do not occur in strict time/chronological order. Traditionally, at the end of the business day, transactions are presented against the balance on the account as deposits/credits first, electronic debits second, service fees third, and checks last (either in order from largest/smallest or vice-versa, depending on bank policy).

You could call Bank A at 9:00 AM and verify funds on a check. Then walk down to the bank, deposit the check into your account at 10:00 AM. The person who has the account that check was written on then withdraws a bunch of money at 11:00 AM. Viola, account is overdrawn, and your deposited check is returned.

A better solution? Instead of writing personal checks, send out checks using your bank’s bill payment option. Bill payment checks are considered the same as official/cashier’s checks, are guaranteed funds, and also clear on the same/next business day (as opposed to personal checks that can take 2, 3, 4, or more days to fully clear).

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avatar Jenny T

There is no such thing as guaranteed funds on any type of check. That is a misconception.

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avatar Sasha Merced

Right, you can place a stop on bill pay checks, plus, the debit on your account is more of a provisional debit while the check is cashed. You can report it lost, stole, place a stop, place a fraud claim, etc, and the check won’t get paid. No such thing as guaranteed funds check, not even cashier’s checks, actually, as you can place stops and claims on those too.

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avatar John

5/2011
Just called BoA to verify funds on a rent check and they declined. Also refused to verify the account holder. Lame…

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avatar sweetns

bank of america will verify funds using the 800.432.1000 if you have check holders acct number and ss# it will say to enter your phone id just ignore that than enter the acct# than it will ask for the 9 didgt ss

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avatar 4WeHelp Movers

Did you call their 800# or the local branch? You have to call the local branch.

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avatar Dawn

I tried to call US Bank today (7-8-2011) and was told that they can verify funds in persona at the bank (which I have done but I am also a US Bank customer) but no longer over the phone.

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avatar raymond

I too verified this week that bank of america does not verify over the phone, but does in person. Just a piece of advice. If you do go to a branch to verify funds, instead of cashing the check, at most banks you can exchange the check for a bank garanteed check on the spot . then you can deposit that check in to your account.

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avatar Jimmy Cracks Capricorns

WTF isn’t this procedure MANDATORY? If I am in Texas and get a check from California and they say I have to bring the check to verify funds, HUH??? I called a bank the other day in Los Angeles and they refused to tell me anything other than the account number and the name on the account match up “To protect the account holder!”…..I got stuck with a $57,000 NSF check!!!

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avatar Ly

Not only did my credit union say I have to pay the bad checks written to me but also INS charges and if I don’t pay in a “timely” manner, it will be turned over to a collection agency and I” cannot open an account in any financial institution until it is paid” I guess they think I won’t last long enough to pay them. Poor things.

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avatar cari

us bank no longer does funds verification for third parties unless it a bank. at least not over the phone that is.

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avatar ctop

No one is allowed to verify funds in your account without your permission it is against the law. I called Wells Fargo and they do not verify funds to anyone.

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avatar Bank User

Simple solution – don’t accept personal checks, accept only money orders or cashiers checks (already paid for). Greenbacks work too if the amount is not too large. When I was young and rented, I had one landlord who would only accept money orders for the monthly rent. Guess he had learned the hard way.

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avatar Merchant-Fast501c3

Chase does do check verification over the phone. They have a full listing of how to do it online. Here is the link: https://www.chase.com/online/services/document/chase_by_phone_03_23_09.pdf

I just verified a business check over the phone and they verified that the funds were not sufficient. Hope this helps!

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avatar david

Do not have a account with bank who does not verify funds over the phone for merchants. I just had a tenant check returned as NSF. Tenant had enough funds to cover it for second and wanted to verify from Bank of America and was told thaT THIS DOES NOT VERIFY FUNDS.
Even though I also have a commercial account with Bank of America. They still refused to verify.
Bad Service by Bank of America. I am going to close my account and open with who provides verification service via phone without any charge.

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avatar dki

If yoiu are a merchant or a landlord, please do not accepts checks issued by account holders of Bank of America. You will not nbe able to verify the availability of Funds on the phone from Bank of America. Their merchant line if you can get through will only verify the if the account is active or not. Tell your customers or tenants to open accouint in Chase or other banks who will verify funds for merchants via Phone.
Bank of America ‘s Customer service is lowest in the industry. tell your friends.

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avatar Syso P.

I just called US Bank to try and verify a check, they told me they don’t do that – don’t verify funds or account status – on the phone or online. They said the only way was to do it by fax which includes a $25 charge.

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avatar Barbara

I wanted to drop a line and say… I called he 800 number, and a very nice gentleman at Bank Of America and he verified funds for me (a third party (the recipient of the check) with no issues.:)

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avatar Todd

checklookup.com is worthless!!!!
$5 to validate whether the routing number is correct or not (this can already be done online) and then gives you a bank phone number to call. I called Chase, they denied as prior posts have stated.

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avatar steven figueroa

With chase over the phone verification you have to be a chase account holder to verify funds

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avatar Vanessa

I work for a bank and at times we call other banks to verify funds on checks.. Wells fargo is the worst bank to call and try to do this.. they will not provide us with any information for our customers. Its a waste of time for everyone

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