The Straight Dope

Go Back   Straight Dope Message Board > Main > General Questions

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
  #1  
Old 02-22-2012, 03:02 PM
rainy rainy is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2002
Location: GA
Posts: 899
void after 90 days -- really?

Just found a refund check from where I accidentally double paid a medical bill. I had put it to the side and forgot about it. Now it turns up but is past the 90 day window. Is it really void or should I deposit it anyway?
Reply With Quote
Advertisements  
  #2  
Old 02-22-2012, 03:31 PM
barbitu8 barbitu8 is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Aug 2000
You have a "reasonable" time to cash or deposit a check. If the drawer states that 90 days is the reasonable time, I think inasmuch as that is reasonable, that time period controls. You could always try to deposit it. You lose nothing if it is rejected by either the bank or drawer. You can always then ask for another check.
Reply With Quote
  #3  
Old 02-22-2012, 03:48 PM
md2000 md2000 is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Feb 2009
AFAIK a cheque is variously good for 6 months or 12 moths, depending who you ask. Not sure what an issuer's "expiry" notice on a cheque is good for.

I suppose you could try cashing it or dumping in your ATM for deposit, and see if they notice. Worst case, they do. Best case, they don't.
Reply With Quote
  #4  
Old 02-22-2012, 03:55 PM
postcards postcards is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2001
Location: The other Long Beach.
Posts: 3,061
Quote:
Originally Posted by barbitu8 View Post
...You lose nothing if it is rejected by either the bank or drawer...
If the check is not good, it may be subject to a 'bounce' fee.

I'd just ask for another check.
__________________
Talking Pictures
Reply With Quote
  #5  
Old 02-22-2012, 04:22 PM
Rachellelogram Rachellelogram is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Oct 2010
Quote:
Originally Posted by rainy View Post
Just found a refund check from where I accidentally double paid a medical bill. I had put it to the side and forgot about it. Now it turns up but is past the 90 day window. Is it really void or should I deposit it anyway?
Yes, it's really void. They'll reissue it if you call. Not a big deal. It shouldn't be cashed, it will mess with the accounting at the doctor's office.
Reply With Quote
  #6  
Old 02-22-2012, 04:33 PM
Ravenman Ravenman is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: Washington, DC
Posts: 14,559
Quote:
Originally Posted by rachelellogram View Post
Yes, it's really void. They'll reissue it if you call. Not a big deal. It shouldn't be cashed, it will mess with the accounting at the doctor's office.
Hold on now -- it's been covered many times on this board that, in most situations, the date on a check does not change the validity of the check -- here's one example. The specific question there asked whether a bank is required to honor a post-dated check, and the resounding answer is no.

If dates on a check (at least in the US) is simply a matter of record-keeping and convenience, why would printing "Void After 90 Days" on a check constitute a binding requirement?

ETA: And I see now that according to the Uniform Commercial Code: "A bank is under no obligation to a customer having a checking account to pay a check, other than a certified check, which is presented more than six months after its date, but it may charge its customer’s account for a payment made thereafter in good faith." So again, if the UCC says that a bank has at least six months to honor a check presented by a customer, why would writing something on a check alter the validity of it?

Last edited by Ravenman; 02-22-2012 at 04:35 PM..
Reply With Quote
  #7  
Old 02-22-2012, 04:33 PM
sevenwood sevenwood is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Aug 2003
Last year I put an appliance rebate check in a drawer to deposit later and then didn't find it until a month after its "void after 90 days" interval. I took the check to my local bank and the teller told me that she was not allowed to accept it for deposit because of that "void after 90 days" written on the check.

Fortunately I was able to contact the appliance folks who told me to mail the undeposited check back to them and they'd send me a replacement. I did, they did, and this time
I deposited the check in time.
Reply With Quote
  #8  
Old 02-22-2012, 05:13 PM
Blake Blake is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2001
Posts: 10,207
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ravenman View Post
ETA: And I see now that according to the Uniform Commercial Code: "A bank is under no obligation to a customer having a checking account to pay a check, other than a certified check, which is presented more than six months after its date, but it may charge its customer’s account for a payment made thereafter in good faith." So again, if the UCC says that a bank has at least six months to honor a check presented by a customer, why would writing something on a check alter the validity of it?
The UCC says the bank's obligation ceases at six months. It doesn't say that they have an obligation for at least six months. A cheque is a private contract and any of the parties can place whatever restriction they like on that contract. If I have an arrangement with my bank not to pay cheques stamped "Void after 30 days", then that is what the bank does. It's an addition to the contract beyond what the bank is obligated to do.
Reply With Quote
  #9  
Old 02-22-2012, 05:17 PM
dracoi dracoi is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Dec 2008
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ravenman View Post
ETA: And I see now that according to the Uniform Commercial Code: "A bank is under no obligation to a customer having a checking account to pay a check, other than a certified check, which is presented more than six months after its date, but it may charge its customer’s account for a payment made thereafter in good faith." So again, if the UCC says that a bank has at least six months to honor a check presented by a customer, why would writing something on a check alter the validity of it?
What you've quoted only says that that banks can refuse a check older than 6 months. It does not say they're required to accept one that is less than 6 months old.

For the OP: whether the check is good or bad, the money is still owed to you. In general, this means that you can either request it to be reissued, or you can collect the money from the state's unclaimed property department. (At least in the US, this is how it works).
Reply With Quote
  #10  
Old 02-22-2012, 05:55 PM
Ravenman Ravenman is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: Washington, DC
Posts: 14,559
Quote:
Originally Posted by Blake View Post
The UCC says the bank's obligation ceases at six months. It doesn't say that they have an obligation for at least six months.
I'm not quite following this. After six months, banks have no obligation to honor a check. I get that.

But if an obligation ends at six months, doesn't that conversely mean that an obligation exists for six months? Otherwise wouldn't that be like saying that people older than 20 are not obligated to eat broccoli.... And people under 20 aren't obligated to eat broccoli either! What's the point of using the word "obligation" and the term of six months if both of those concepts are irrelevant to the validity of a check?

Also, I've never heard of a check being a contract between two people. I've always heard it referred to as a negotiable instrument (which obviously could be the consideration for a contract, but I just don't understand how a check would be a contract in itself).

I'm not trying to be difficult, but a little more explanation of those concepts would be helpful to me. I'm just not following you clearly.
Reply With Quote
  #11  
Old 02-22-2012, 05:59 PM
Alley Dweller Alley Dweller is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Feb 2011
You are right that banks don't generally examine the date or special notations like "void after 90 days" on a check. But business accounts can sign up for a service called "Positive Pay" (PP). PP essentially causes the bank to put a stop payment on all checks except the ones on a list provided to the bank by the accountholder. The accountholder can then take checks older than 90 days (or whatever) off the list of approved checks.

Of course, not all businesses use PP and even those that do may have a more lenient policy than what is printed on the check. As others have mentioned, the risk you run is that your bank will charge a fee for depositing a returned check.

By the way, a notation like "void after 90 days" has value even if you don't intend to enforce the time limit. It provides some protection against holder-in-due-course claims because the party claiming to be a holder in due course should have known that the check was invalid on its face.
Reply With Quote
  #12  
Old 02-22-2012, 06:07 PM
homeskillet homeskillet is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Dec 2005
Corporate Accountant/Financial Controller here and this is one of those Short Answer No with a But, Long Answer Yes with an IF sort of questions.

Yes, technically the check is void after 90 and the bank is not required to honor the check. This is called Stale Dating. Once a check is stale dated, typically 180 days, the check is no longer valid and may be returned by the bank. But let’s say you do decide to deposit the check what could happen?

1.) Your bank will not allow you to deposit the check and tell you to contact the issuer and ask them to cut you a new check. This is what should happen, but it certainly doesn’t mean that it will happen, in which case you’re now gambling on what the other bank will do.

2.) Your bank accepts the deposit but it is returned by the issuing bank. Now this shouldn’t generate any fees on your end as it should have been caught by your institution and is different from a check that is returned due to insufficient funds. If they do charge you a fee, I would definitely fight it! In any case you’re still back to asking for a new check. Now, as an FYI there are two likely scenarios why the issuing bank wouldn’t honor the check.

a. Somewhere in the processing it was noted as being stale dated and was automatically rejected based on the date, which they are entitled to do.

b. The check was drawn on a Positive Pay* account and because it was stale dated it was removed from the list of approved checks. The distinction is that an item rejected because of Positive Pay wasn't necessarily automatic. It could be flagged as an “exception” and the issuer would have to make a decision to either pay the check or return it. The approver might allow it since it was a valid check and you simply forgot to cash it, which brings us to what you’re hoping for…

3.) Everybody might simply be A-OK with paying the check. This is a more likely scenario especially if you are dealing with a small doctor’s office and a small bank. However a large insurance company and a national bank are going to have fraud controls in place that will scrutinize the check, meaning it is more likely to be rejected.

But so what if it is, it is still your money and the issuer doesn’t just the money back because you forgot to cash the check. This is called Escheatment and most places don’t…. Most public companies, esp large Insurance companies or hospitals will have a formal process in a place. Your local family doctor office, probably won’t and it doesn’t really matter because it’s mostly just an accounting thing.

When a check stale dates, it becomes void and is removed from your list of Outstanding Checks. This is important when reconciling your bank accounts and increases your cash balance, this increase in cash is offset by creating a liability that sits your balance sheet until the check is either reissued or remitted to the state** (depending on your local laws). Your local doctors’ office however might just opt to keep the check as outstanding, until an auditor tells them to remove it, but either way you are still entitled to your money.


But with all that being said, I would just ask for a new check...




*Type of fraud prevention that matches checks presented for payment with check registers issued by the account holder.

** If you’ve ever heard one of those ads about Unclaimed Money held by the State and thought, “How could you not know if you had unclaimed money?” This is one way they get a hold of it.
Reply With Quote
  #13  
Old 02-22-2012, 06:11 PM
dracoi dracoi is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Dec 2008
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ravenman View Post
But if an obligation ends at six months, doesn't that conversely mean that an obligation exists for six months? Otherwise wouldn't that be like saying that people older than 20 are not obligated to eat broccoli.... And people under 20 aren't obligated to eat broccoli either! What's the point of using the word "obligation" and the term of six months if both of those concepts are irrelevant to the validity of a check?
Imagine it like this: most people have no obligation to eat broccoli. However, if you've signed a contract that makes you obligated to eat broccoli, the law says that you can only be obligated to do so for six months. Since a law can override a contract, no one can enforce an obligation for longer than the six months. But there's nothing wrong with a contract that only obligates you to eat broccoli for three months.
Reply With Quote
  #14  
Old 02-22-2012, 06:15 PM
Blake Blake is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2001
Posts: 10,207
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ravenman View Post
But if an obligation ends at six months, doesn't that conversely mean that an obligation exists for six months?
No. The obligation to honour the cheque ceases at 6 months, unless it is stipulated that the obligation ceases sooner. 6 months is the default, nothing more.

Quote:
Also, I've never heard of a check being a contract between two people. I've always heard it referred to as a negotiable instrument (which obviously could be the consideration for a contract, but I just don't understand how a check would be a contract in itself).
Well if you are going to nitpick to that degree, no, cheques are not contracts in and of themselves. They are the result of the contemplation of a contract.

Sheesh. This is like saying that my home loan isn't a contract, it's merely the result of the contemplation of a contract. Talk about meaningless nitpicks. A cheque is a signed written record of a contract obligating my bank to pay you a specified amount of legal tender, to be deducted form my account. At the utmost pedantic level you are correct, it is not a contract, it is just the evidence of the contract. The contract of course has no physical existence.

Happy now?

Last edited by Blake; 02-22-2012 at 06:15 PM..
Reply With Quote
  #15  
Old 02-22-2012, 06:31 PM
Ravenman Ravenman is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: Washington, DC
Posts: 14,559
Quote:
Originally Posted by Blake View Post
Happy now?
Did my two questions offend you in some way?
Reply With Quote
Reply



Bookmarks

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 12:24 AM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2014, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.

Send questions for Cecil Adams to: cecil@chicagoreader.com

Send comments about this website to: webmaster@straightdope.com

Terms of Use / Privacy Policy

Advertise on the Straight Dope!
(Your direct line to thousands of the smartest, hippest people on the planet, plus a few total dipsticks.)

Publishers - interested in subscribing to the Straight Dope?
Write to: sdsubscriptions@chicagoreader.com.

Copyright © 2013 Sun-Times Media, LLC.