Cashier’s checks ARE traceable.
The Federal Reserve designated cashier’s checks as valid mode of currency remuneration. As such, their popularity and use has increased when cash or a personal check is not possible or convenient. Like other non-cash modes of payment, lost or stolen cashier’s checks can be tracked.
Why Cashier’s Checks Are Traceable
Cashier’s checks are unique in that when they are purchased, the financial institution programs the payee directly onto the check. Therefore, the most complete data of all the forms is instantly available directly from the issuer.
When a cashier’s check is lost or stolen, contact the bank with at least the check number and date shown on your receipt, and they can immediately confirm not only that it was you who purchased it but also that it is a legitimate check and not a forgery.
All financial institutions use some kind of clearinghouse (organization) or internal department to track and verify payments. This department verifies the cashier’s check is still outstanding by searching their databases for the check number. If not found, the cashier’s check has not yet been presented for payment or it hasn’t yet cleared the process.
The clearinghouse can track the cashier’s check to its last known point, even if that is only the point of purchase. If the check number appears to still be outstanding, they will periodically recheck the databases, and if the number does not pass through the system, they can issue a stop payment, and the cashier’s check can be replaced.
If the cashier’s check has been cashed, the purchaser can obtain a copy of the front and back of the check, normally for a fee, and if not cashed by the correct payee, the bank can initiate action to recoup funds and file criminal charges against the entity who illegally cashed the check.
If the correct payee cashed the check but doesn’t have record of the cashier’s check, present a copy of the receipt and a second copy of the front and back of the cancelled or cleared cashier’s check. The organization or person can investigate and determine the location of the payment, crediting the purchaser’s account.
Additional Important Information
Forging cashier’s checks is near epidemic proportions. To avoid fraud and financial loss, buy only authorized cashier’s checks and only directly from financial institutions.
Keep all records regarding the cashier’s check and ensure they’re complete.
If a forgery is suspected, contact the institution listed on the check to verify issuance of the check number in hand.
Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation; “Risk Management Manual of Examination Policies, Section 8.1: Bank Secrecy Act, Anti-Money Laundering and Office of Foreign Assets Control,” found at: http://www.fdic.gov/regulations/safety/manual/section8-1.html
Federal Trade Commission; FTC Consumer Alert; “Check Overpayment Scams: Seller Beware,” found at: http://ftc.gov/bcp/edu/pubs/consumer/alerts/alt014.shtm
Federal Trade Commission; FTC Consumer News-Summer 2002, “Bogus ‘Bonus’ Checks,” found at: http://www.pueblo.gsa.gov/cic_text/housing/hcloans/fraud.html