Business owners who accept checks run the risk of taking forged checks or those written on accounts with no money. The loss goes beyond not getting the money owed. Banks may charge a fee for depositing checks with "insufficient funds." This forces the business owner to collect the money owed in addition to the fee. You may accept checks because it is better for business, regardless of the risks. If this is your situation, verifying a checking account prior to accepting the money can mitigate some of the risk.
Locate the bank routing number and checking account number on the check. If you are verifying a checking account prior to obtaining a check, like for an apartment rental application, obtain the bank name, checking account number, routing number and the bank phone number from the applicant.
Call the bank customer service toll-free number. Explain to the representative that you are verifying an account. Follow prompts if you are transferred to an automated system.
Provide the bank representative or prompt system with the bank information, including the account number.
Listen to the response. The bank can let you know whether the account is valid and open but cannot give you any personal information, such as account balances, names on the account or account history. A vendor can ask whether a specific amount of money is available to clear the amount on the check without giving you the balance of the account.
Business owners accepting large amounts of checks during non-banking hours may choose to enroll in check verification systems, such as Verifax or ChexSystem (see the Resources section), that are more efficient in obtaining checking account information.
Verifying an account or funds does not guarantee that the check will clear.