In the world of cryptocurrencies, third-party transfer systems like PayPal and other forms of non-traditional banking and money transfers, keeping track of your finances can be challenging. Fortunately, more traditional methods, like paying by check, are still in place, and checks are just as trackable as ever. Checks or, as Europeans refer to them, cheques, are written promises of payment, verified by the issuing bank to be connected to an extant bank account and protected by a long-standing series of safeguards and tracking measures.
Tracking Checks at Chase
Chase, a major financial institution, allows you to see online images of every check you've written in the last three years. In addition, if you visit a brick-and-mortar bank, you can get a printed-out copy of any of the last seven years' checks.
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Chase's virtual check deposit tool, called the QuickDeposit Scanner, is an example of major banking institutions adapting to the modern world by allowing you to deposit a physical check from your phone by taking a picture of the front and back (after you've signed it, of course) using the bank's phone app.
The Different Types of Checks
You may not be familiar with the different types of checks or how they can be used. Fortunately, they are fairly straightforward, and modern technology has advanced to incorporate them into financial records.
A personal check is written by an individual promising the listed amount of money to the bearer, usually clearly named. The check is backed by the bank listed on the slip, but the amount is not guaranteed to be in the individual's account. A personal check may be "post-dated," which means that the date written on the check is in the future of the actual writing event.
This is done when the check issuer expects incoming funds which will make the check viable by the date written on it. Essentially, the check-writer is saying, "I don't have the money now, but if you cash or deposit this check on the date written, the transfer will go through."
Cashier’s Checks and More
In contrast to a personal check, there are also cashier's checks, banker's checks and official checks. All of these checks withdraw the amount written from the issuer's account at the moment of writing it, making the funds available to the recipient right away. These kinds of checks are only issued by banks and generally have a fee.
Similar to, but set aside from these kinds of checks, is a "certified" check. This is also issued by a bank and requires a fee, but instead of immediately withdrawing the funds from the issuer's account, an official check freezes the funds for three months. If the certified check is not cashed or deposited within that time frame, the check "expires" and the funds are available for use by the issuer.
Money Orders and Tracing Them
Money orders are similar to checks but are not always issued by banks. You can get a money order from the United States Postal Service, grocery stores and credit unions, always for a fee. Money orders are essentially slips of paper that can be exchanged like cash. They do not have an intended recipient listed on them and are often limited to a maximum of $1,000 per money order.
These are good for people who don't have bank accounts. Like cash, anyone can use a money order to cash out, deposit into their account or simply use it to make a purchase.
All of these types of checks are traceable, to one degree or another. The Cold Wire describes how cashed checks can be traced, while Forbes lays out how to track a money order. This means that, no matter how you issue a check, you can see who has cashed it with what institution. Even if you lose a money order, you can at least report it as lost immediately and follow up on where it gets used.
Consider also: About Chase Online Banking