A lot of people use checks more


What is a check

A check is a piece of security with which the issuer instructs its bank to pay a specified amount to the check recipient.

Write a check: This is what a check looks like

If you want to write a check, you cannot use any piece of paper, but usually only the completed check forms from your bank. This is regulated in the check contract between the bank and the customer. Every check must contain certain information:

  • clear identification as a "check"
  • a money order for a certain amount of money
  • the name of the drawee (the person who is to pay the sum, i.e. the debtor's bank)
  • Place of payment and date and place of issue
  • the signature of the exhibitor

In the case of a blank check, the second point does not apply, because here the beneficiary sets the amount himself.

How long is a check valid?

In order for the bank to accept a payout, a check must be cashed within certain deadlines. In Germany they are eight days from the date of issue. For checks made out in other European countries or in countries bordering the Mediterranean, the period for presentation is extended to the total 20 days. Apply to checks made in overseas countries 70 days. After these deadlines have expired, most banks will still cash a check, but they are no longer legally obliged to do so.

What types of checks are there?

Checks differ in terms of the method of payment and the provisions to whom payments can be made.

Personal check and personal check

In the case of a cash check, the amount recorded is paid out as cash. In the case of a crossed check, the money is credited directly to the beneficiary's current account. A crossed check can only be cashed at the payee's house bank. A cashier's check, on the other hand, can also be cashed at a foreign bank, but in most cases this incurs fees.

Order check and owner check

An order check is only payable to a recipient named on the check, who must identify himself when submitting the check. This creates security - both for the issuer of the check and for the recipient. An order check is ideal for sending by post, because if it is stolen or lost, it cannot be redeemed by unauthorized persons. An order check is usually marked with a red stripe - at least for domestic checks. Checks issued abroad are automatically treated like order checks by most banks. This means that they will only be redeemed if they have the name of the recipient, who must identify themselves when redeeming them.

The order check is particularly secure due to its personal identity, but it can still be transferred to others. For this purpose, an alternative recipient must be indicated on the check as part of a so-called endorsement (a special note). A type of check that is very similar to the order check, where this is not possible, is the name check. However, this rarely occurs in payment transactions in Germany.

The counterpart to the order check is the bearer or bearer check. Instead of the recipient's name, it contains the instruction to pay the stated amount to the person who delivered the check. Since this type of check does not contain any personal information about the beneficiary, it can be passed on without any problems and cashed without presenting an identification.

Checks and direct banks

In the vast majority of cases, checks are cashed personally by the recipient in his bank's branch. At some banks it is necessary to hand in a completed check form in addition to the check, which can be found in the counter of most branches.

Anyone who has an account with a direct bank that operates exclusively online can send in their check and, if necessary, a completed form for redemption by post. The banks provide their customers with suitable forms to print out. The check holder pays the postage, so there are additional costs - even if the check is cashed at your own house bank. Since the bank always has to have the original document, there has been no way to cash a check online.

Check fraud

Check fraud usually involves a bad check. In particular, checks from abroad should only be accepted from trustworthy people. Even if the check is cashed at your own bank and the money has already arrived in the account, it can still burst.

The money that the recipient finds in his account after cashing the check is, so to speak, a loan from his own bank until the money is received from abroad. If the foreign bank finds out that the check is uncovered, it does not transfer any money to the German bank, which as a result demands the money back from the recipient of the check. Therefore, in case of doubt, a bank transfer is always preferable to payment by check.

The history of the check

The check, from the English "check", is a much older means of payment than many assume: Corresponding forerunners were known as early as 1,700 BC. The concept has been taken up and expanded again and again over the centuries; checks were used by both the English royal family and Dutch merchants. The first check in the form commonly used today is not documented for Germany until around 1850. In order to regulate the check business, the first German check law was passed in 1908, which was revised again in 1933 (after the Geneva Check Law Agreement of 1931) for reasons of uniformity.

In addition to the crossed check and the cashier's check, there are or were many other types of checks: for example the Eurocheque, which was accepted throughout Europe and from which the EC card later developed. The blank check plays a special role: a blank check has already been signed, only the amount of money has not yet been entered. The recipient can theoretically enter any amount. From this the saying "write a blank check" developed - it means to give someone unrestricted power of attorney.

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