Each bank has its own set of rules for cashing checks. No federal or state laws govern whether a bank must cash a check that you present if you're not a customer or if you owe the bank money on a separate account. Banks will usually cash checks if they are drawn on their bank because they can immediately verify whether funds are available and they'll also will be able to charge a fee for the transaction.
Check Cashing Procedure
When a check is presented at a bank for cashing, the bank can immediately verify whether funds are available in the account. As long as money is available in the account being presented, a bank will cash the check. All banks will require a valid picture identification such as a driver's license. Some banks might also require a second ID such as a Social Security card or military ID. Others will also require a fingerprint at the time of cashing the check.
Verify the Bank Policy
If you're trying to cash a check drawn on a bank where you owe the bank money, you should contact the bank first and ask them for its policy. For example, Wells Fargo will cash a check drawn on a Wells Fargo account even if an outstanding balance is owed on a separate account. Each bank is different, but most will charge a transaction fee.
Presenting a Check for Cashing
Do not sign the check or give it to the bank teller until you have determined that the bank will cash the check. This is your right. If the bank representative tells you that they'll need to deduct the amount you already owe them on another account, you have the right to refuse the transaction and keep your check until you resolve the issue.
In the event that the bank will not cash the check because of another balance that you owe, you have other options. You can pay the amount you owe and then cash the check. You can also try and cash the check at a third party check-cashing business. The fees on this type of transaction can be expensive. If you owe the bank a large amount of money, or if the check you're trying to cash is for a large amount, you can talk to an attorney about your check cashing options.