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  #1  
Old 08-21-2009, 01:31 PM
mhendo mhendo is offline
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Q. about depositing IRS check.

My wife and i have been married for just over 5 years, and we still have our original, separate checking accounts. There's no particular reason for this, except inertia. We just never bothered to close either of them, or to open a joint account. We transfer money between them frequently, and bills get paid out of whichever account happens to be most convenient at the time.

Anyway, earlier this year i submitted a few amended tax returns to the IRS, changing our status from "Married filing separately" to "Married filing jointly." We initially filed separately because i was a nonresident alien and we didn't think that we could file jointly, but i discovered this year that nonresident aliens married to US citizens can choose to file jointly and be taxed as residents. Because filing jointly lowered our tax burden, i put in amended returns.

The IRS has now processed one of the amended returns, and i have a check for about $600 (we were both grad students, so we had pretty low incomes during those years). The check is made out to both of us, but as i said earlier, we have no joint account.

My question is: If i just take this check to the ATM and deposit it in my account, will the bank honor the deposit, or will they require the deposit to be made in person, with my wife present also?

My sense was that they would want both of us there. My wife thinks it will be fine i i just deposit it at the ATM. Any thoughts?

(Bank of America, if that matters)
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  #2  
Old 08-21-2009, 01:56 PM
groman groman is offline
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There is difference between checks made out to "A or B" and checks made out to "A and B". If there is no word, then "OR" is usually assumed. However, this only matters as to who has to endorse the back of the check. You can still deposit it into either account, just have both of you endorse the back of the check if it's made out to "A and B".
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  #3  
Old 08-21-2009, 01:56 PM
Munch Munch is online now
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I would think you can just deposit it. Why not just call them and find out?
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Old 08-21-2009, 02:05 PM
Polycarp Polycarp is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Munch View Post
I would think you can just deposit it. Why not just call them and find out?
Most banks will (in my experience) accept a check for deposit (as opposed to cashing one) endorsed by only one of two payees, simply to avoid the time and frustration of returning it for the missing payee's endorsement, as 90%+ of the time the intent of the two payees is identical. But it makes perfect sense to me to make a simple short phone call to find out the bank's policy: "My wife's in Tallahassee for a month, and I've got our tax refund check made out to both of us, which she said to go ahead and deposit in my account. Will that present any problems?"

Last edited by Polycarp; 08-21-2009 at 02:06 PM.. Reason: added a caveat
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  #5  
Old 08-21-2009, 02:50 PM
mhendo mhendo is offline
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Originally Posted by Polycarp View Post
Most banks will (in my experience) accept a check for deposit (as opposed to cashing one) endorsed by only one of two payees, simply to avoid the time and frustration of returning it for the missing payee's endorsement, as 90%+ of the time the intent of the two payees is identical. But it makes perfect sense to me to make a simple short phone call to find out the bank's policy: "My wife's in Tallahassee for a month, and I've got our tax refund check made out to both of us, which she said to go ahead and deposit in my account. Will that present any problems?"
Thing is, though, my wife's not in Tallahassee. She's here, and could theoretically go to the bank with me. It's just that we see no point in dragging both our asses there unless absolutely necessary.

As for calling, i'd be willing to try that, but the last time i tried calling my local BofA branch, i could not get through to a live person no matter what i tried.

Last edited by mhendo; 08-21-2009 at 02:50 PM..
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  #6  
Old 08-21-2009, 02:58 PM
Munch Munch is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mhendo View Post
Thing is, though, my wife's not in Tallahassee. She's here, and could theoretically go to the bank with me. It's just that we see no point in dragging both our asses there unless absolutely necessary.

As for calling, i'd be willing to try that, but the last time i tried calling my local BofA branch, i could not get through to a live person no matter what i tried.
1. BoA does not know your wife isn't in Tallahassee.
2. Yes, spending a minute or two is entirely too hard to save yourself the hassle of both people going down the branch.
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  #7  
Old 08-21-2009, 02:59 PM
SCSimmons SCSimmons is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mhendo View Post
Thing is, though, my wife's not in Tallahassee. She's here, and could theoretically go to the bank with me. It's just that we see no point in dragging both our asses there unless absolutely necessary.

As for calling, i'd be willing to try that, but the last time i tried calling my local BofA branch, i could not get through to a live person no matter what i tried.
IME, you don't need to both go to the bank--you just both need to endorse the check. There's no rule at any bank I've presented checks at requiring that endorsements be made in front of the cashier; if it has her signature on it as well as yours, they should accept it for deposit. But I had an issue once at my credit union trying to deposit a check endorsed only by me but made out to both of us to our joint account! The teller told me that if neither of us had endorsed it, I could have written 'for deposit only' in the endorsement section and they would have accepted it for deposit to the joint account of the parties ... But once I'd signed it with my own name, they needed her signature as well to accept the check.
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  #8  
Old 08-21-2009, 03:02 PM
mhendo mhendo is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Munch View Post
2. Yes, spending a minute or two is entirely too hard to save yourself the hassle of both people going down the branch.
Huh? As i said, i'd be happy to spend a minute or two to call the branch. But last time i tried that, i literally could not talk to a real person, but just got shuttled all around a stupid menu.
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  #9  
Old 08-21-2009, 03:04 PM
Munch Munch is online now
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Just got off the phone with a BoA cashier (took all of 2 minutes). She said you'd need a joint account. (Frankly, I don't believe her.)
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  #10  
Old 08-21-2009, 03:06 PM
mhendo mhendo is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Munch View Post
Just got off the phone with a BoA cashier (took all of 2 minutes). She said you'd need a joint account. (Frankly, I don't believe her.)
Wow, thanks. It could be that my prior experience trying to call had more to do with Baltimore than with BofA.

Anyway, she's clearly wrong about needing a joint account.

It could be that my wife needs to be there in person in order to verify her identity and endorse the check in front of a teller, but the idea that we actually need a joint account is ridiculous.
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  #11  
Old 08-21-2009, 03:10 PM
mhendo mhendo is offline
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By the way, that's another reason i asked here rather than trying the bank: in areas like this, i think i'm more likely to get an accurate answer from people here than from an actual bank teller.

In my experience, bank tellers often have no fucking clue about banking rules and regulations, and in situations where they're at all unsure, they'll just give the answer that is most likely to cover their ass.
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  #12  
Old 08-21-2009, 03:23 PM
Munch Munch is online now
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For the record, I picked a random branch off of their big map. I'm in Indiana, so I think I grabbed one in South Bend. When you do call, ask to speak to an account manager, not a teller. If someone there knows, they will.
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  #13  
Old 08-21-2009, 04:20 PM
Dewey Finn Dewey Finn is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mhendo View Post
By the way, that's another reason i asked here rather than trying the bank: in areas like this, i think i'm more likely to get an accurate answer from people here than from an actual bank teller.
So instead of calling the bank and getting an answer from an actual bank teller, you got an answer from Munch, who got it from a teller. What's the difference?
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  #14  
Old 08-21-2009, 04:26 PM
mhendo mhendo is offline
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Originally Posted by Dewey Finn View Post
So instead of calling the bank and getting an answer from an actual bank teller, you got an answer from Munch, who got it from a teller. What's the difference?
The difference is that i'm dismissing that teller's answer, because it's clearly wrong.

We have deposited checks made out to both of us before, into my account. But on those occasions both of us were present. So, the teller's answer that depositing a check made out to two people requires a joint account is completely contradicted by my actual experience.

My question, in this case, is not whether we need a joint account, but whether both of us need to be present in the bank, or whether simply depositing it in an ATM after we both sign it will work. The teller that Munch spoke to would argue "no," but i'[m dismissing that teller's answer because he or she is giving information that is clearly contradicted by my own experiences with the bank.

And also by common sense. The idea that one party on a check can't sign over their interest in the check to the other party without having a joint account is completely ridiculous.

Last edited by mhendo; 08-21-2009 at 04:27 PM..
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  #15  
Old 08-21-2009, 04:44 PM
dracoi dracoi is offline
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Going by the rules on endorsing checks, there's absolutely no reason a joint account is required, just two signatures. As far as the law is concerned, once a joint check is endorsed by both parties, any complete stranger can deposit it to any account or cash it.

In practice, banks try to filter some of the riskiest options by requiring ID, preventing checks from being cashed, etc. If you show up with a check that has your signature and your wife's on the back, I don't see how they can refuse to deposit it.

If you really want to avoid any protest, have your wife endorse it and write either "Payable to mhendo" or "Payable to Bank of America, for deposit to acct #12345678."
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  #16  
Old 08-21-2009, 04:48 PM
Kimmy_Gibbler Kimmy_Gibbler is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by groman View Post
There is difference between checks made out to "A or B" and checks made out to "A and B". If there is no word, then "OR" is usually assumed. However, this only matters as to who has to endorse the back of the check. You can still deposit it into either account, just have both of you endorse the back of the check if it's made out to "A and B".
Correctamundo. Under UCC 3-110(d)

Quote:
If an instrument is payable to two or more persons alternatively, it is payable to any of them and may be negotiated, discharged, or enforced by any or all of them in possession of the instrument. If an instrument is payable to two or more persons not alternatively, it is payable to all of them and may be negotiated, discharged, or enforced only by all of them. If an instrument payable to two or more persons is ambiguous as to whether it is payable to the persons alternatively, the instrument is payable to the persons alternatively.
So, if the check is payable to "mhendo or wife" or "mhendo, wife" or "mhendo/wife" or variations on that theme, he may deposit it on his own.

But what if it is payable to "mhendo and wife"? All that's needs to be done is to blank indorse (this is how the UCC spells "endorse") the back of the check (i.e., just sign the back, with no other language -- no "For Deposit Only" and certainly never "Without Recourse"). That converts the check to a bearer instrument and my be enforced merely by presentment to the collecting bank. UCC 3-205(b) ("If an indorsement is made by the holder of an instrument and it is not a special indorsement, it is a 'blank indorsement.' When indorsed in blank, an instrument becomes payable to bearer and may be negotiated by transfer of possession alone until specially indorsed.").
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  #17  
Old 08-21-2009, 05:43 PM
Chief Pedant Chief Pedant is offline
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There is what's legal, what usually happens, what sometimes happens, and how to get around all of it.

What's legal (as far as I know) is that a check made out to two parties needs endorsement by both parties--if it goes into an account owned by only one party, the other party should really add "pay to the order of" and the account party's name so it's clear what's going on--an endorsement of the check to a single party.

What usually happens is that no one checks. Sign your name. Sign your wife's name. Deposit the sucker. Done.

What sometimes happens is that you get caught doing this, particularly if you take it into a person to deposit instead of a machine. No consequence if there is no fraud, except the teller person might refuse to process it. If there's fraud, then you are on your own...

How to get around all of this is to use the ATM. Done. It is highly unlikely the check will be screened for appropriate signature. Bazillions of checks are processed, mostly in an automated fashion. If the check itself is good, it gets processed.

All of this is my opinion, but based a few checks over the years, plus of course the requisite Discovery Channel (or similar) education.

Last edited by Chief Pedant; 08-21-2009 at 05:45 PM..
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  #18  
Old 08-21-2009, 05:50 PM
Gfactor Gfactor is offline
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IME, you can deposit just about anything in the ATM. Here's what you do:

1. Both sign the back.
2. Deposit in ATM.
3. Profit.

I've done this before and never had a problem. What's required is that the check be indorsed (glances at Kimmy_Gibbler) by both parties and presented to the bank (by ATM in this case). There is no legal requirement that they look at IDs, and if you deposit it at the ATM, they generally won't bug you about it.

In other words, what Chief Pedant said.

Last edited by Gfactor; 08-21-2009 at 05:51 PM..
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  #19  
Old 08-21-2009, 05:51 PM
mhendo mhendo is offline
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Thanks folks.

I think i'll just get her to sign the back, i'll sign it, and then deposit it using the ATM. If i get any problems from the bank, i'll come back and let you know.
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  #20  
Old 08-21-2009, 11:28 PM
groman groman is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chief Pedant View Post
What's legal (as far as I know) is that a check made out to two parties needs endorsement by both parties--if it goes into an account owned by only one party, the other party should really add "pay to the order of" and the account party's name so it's clear what's going on--an endorsement of the check to a single party.

Well no, as I and Kimmy_Gibbler pointed out there is a difference between checks made out to both parties ("mhendo and wife") and checks made out to either parties ("mhendo or wife" or pretty much anything other than the word "and")
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  #21  
Old 08-22-2009, 05:03 AM
IAmNotSpartacus IAmNotSpartacus is offline
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You may find that a signature from your wife will not be sufficient for your bank. How do they know who signed the check? Sometimes they will accept the second party with identification in the teller's presence. Sometimes they will want a signature guarantee, which means taking the check to her bank and having them essentially stamp it with their indication that her signature really is her signature.

YMMV depending on your bank's policies.

Last edited by IAmNotSpartacus; 08-22-2009 at 05:04 AM..
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  #22  
Old 08-22-2009, 06:41 AM
Chief Pedant Chief Pedant is offline
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Originally Posted by groman View Post
Well no, as I and Kimmy_Gibbler pointed out there is a difference between checks made out to both parties ("mhendo and wife") and checks made out to either parties ("mhendo or wife" or pretty much anything other than the word "and")
When I said "a check made out to two parties" I meant two parties-not one party or the other party.

Were I in the OP's situation, I'd simply let Mrs Pedant know I'm forging her name on the check, and go cash it in the ATM--criminal that I am.

(As it is, my life is even easier: Mrs. Pedant gets the check and it goes into her account.)

Also, just to clarify Kimmy_Gibler's answer: the endorsement must come from all parties on the check unless it's made out to X OR Y. While endorsing it makes it cashable, everyone to whom it's made out must endorse it. I can't deposit a check from the IRS made out to me and the Mrs without her permission, IOW. That's the whole point of putting more than one party on the check from the IRS. It belongs to both of us. In practice, of course, this is un-policeable and the first person to touch the check can easily get the money into their personal account. If there is fraud involved, it won't be caught at that point. A valid check would clear if my dog signed it. My own signature is illegible.

Last edited by Chief Pedant; 08-22-2009 at 06:45 AM..
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  #23  
Old 08-23-2009, 06:12 AM
Jormungandr Jormungandr is offline
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It varies from bank to bank. Wells Fargo requires the people on the IRS checks have a joint account. One branch required that all account holders signed the checks even if they were listed on the check. Another local bank just took the check as is. From personal experience, if I deposited a check by ATM, the check always went through, even if it was someone else's paycheck. As long as the original person signed and I signed with my account number. We got as much as we could then and the rest the next day. It beat the whole ID and fingerprint deal inside the bank.
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  #24  
Old 08-24-2009, 09:57 AM
butler1850 butler1850 is offline
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These "clarifications" are all so cute...

My bank would have to pull a signature card to know mine... and my wife has signed my name on checks in the full view of the teller... My parent's banking situation is exactly the same. My Father-in-law probably doesn't know where the bank is in the first place. We're at small banks though. (A credit union, and a cooperative bank, depending on couple & time)

If you're worried, have her sign it, and take it to the bank. It's $600, and destined for deposit. If you have a problem, you need a different bank.
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  #25  
Old 08-24-2009, 12:11 PM
mhendo mhendo is offline
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Well, i got my wife to sign it, i signed it and added my account number, and i deposited it in the ATM before closing on Friday.

It shows up in my online account as a Cleared transaction, so it appears that no-one thought to question it in any way.
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  #26  
Old 08-24-2009, 02:58 PM
Bookkeeper Bookkeeper is offline
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I don't know if the US uses the same procedures, but Canadian cheques deposited into an ATM are sent to a central processing location and run through automated scanners, which verify the wriiten and figure amounts, date, and other info on the front. A small percentage are kicked out for secondary review by an actual person, where the scanner can't understand a particularly sloppy handwritten cheque, but 99% are never even seen by a human. While there might be a verification that there is something in the endorsement space on the back, an actual check of the signature(s) would normally only happen if the cheque was subsequently questioned in some way by the payee or payor.
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  #27  
Old 08-24-2009, 04:08 PM
thelurkinghorror thelurkinghorror is offline
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The fact that it showed up in your account has no bearing on whether they decided to accept it or not. ATMs are normally emptied weekly or so, the ATM just did not see it was a fraudulent check. Checks are cleared the next business day unless they warrant a hold, but that doesn't mean that the deposit can't later be canceled. This principle is why craigslist cashier's check scams work.

When I was a teller processing federal refund checks, I think we needed to have both individuals present and check ID if it wasn't a joint account. I can't remember if we did this if only one name was on the account but they each had accounts, or whether only if one individual did not have an account with us. We weren't being unnecessarily strict. Some customers had the check returned (or a check-21 copy) because of that reason, so we enforced it to protect the customer.

Last edited by thelurkinghorror; 08-24-2009 at 04:09 PM..
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  #28  
Old 08-24-2009, 04:57 PM
IAmNotSpartacus IAmNotSpartacus is offline
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OP, just make sure you don't spend that money for awhile, in case the bank decides to yank the money out of your account without warning... would suck to get a bunch of overdraft fees, or worse yet, items returned for non-sufficient funds
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  #29  
Old 08-24-2009, 05:02 PM
mhendo mhendo is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thelurkinghorror View Post
The fact that it showed up in your account has no bearing on whether they decided to accept it or not. ATMs are normally emptied weekly or so, the ATM just did not see it was a fraudulent check. Checks are cleared the next business day unless they warrant a hold, but that doesn't mean that the deposit can't later be canceled. This principle is why craigslist cashier's check scams work.
Right, but in Craigslist scams the checks themselves are fraudulent, which is clearly not going to be the case here.

In Craigslist scams, the bank assumes the check is good, releases the funds, and them grabs the money back again when the check is found to be bad. In this case, the check itself is fine.
Quote:
Originally Posted by thelurkinghorror View Post
When I was a teller processing federal refund checks, I think we needed to have both individuals present and check ID if it wasn't a joint account. I can't remember if we did this if only one name was on the account but they each had accounts, or whether only if one individual did not have an account with us. We weren't being unnecessarily strict. Some customers had the check returned (or a check-21 copy) because of that reason, so we enforced it to protect the customer.
If they do that, my wife and i will both cancel our accounts immediately and take them elsewhere.
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  #30  
Old 08-24-2009, 08:41 PM
AZCowboy AZCowboy is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mhendo
If they do that, my wife and i will both cancel our accounts immediately and take them elsewhere.
Who would probably treat you the same way.

I just had this situation - a Treasury check (amended tax refund, coincidently) made out to both of us, where we had both endorsed the back of it, and I took it to deposit into my personal account. The bank also has our joint account, as well as a personal account for my spouse.

I went to deposit it alone, and they would not accept it without her there to present identification. This is a bank where we have both had accounts for over 20 years. But, as we do most everything online, we were not personally known by this teller. He did agree to deposit it into our joint account. As we can easily transfer funds online, and since I wasn't trying to pull a fast one, I was able to accept without any further concern. But I was surprised.

Turns out, Treasury checks are "special". Banks have more strict guidance to their tellers for Treasury checks than any other. This FAQ aimed at bankers describes the issues from their view. Read the last two FAQs listed.

Feel free to be upset about it, but the banks are just trying to protect their interests (pardon the pun).
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