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Tornado blasts check 170 miles

By Claes Bell, CFA · Bankrate.com
Wednesday, April 11, 2012
Posted: 4 pm ET

It's not every day you find a check written out to "cash" laying on the sidewalk. Even less common is finding one that's been flung there by a massive weather event. From 10TV News in Columbus, Ohio:

Donna Stevens said that she found a check from Henryville, Ind., dated 1982.

"A light switch went off in my head -- horrible tornadoes."

March tornadoes wiped out much of Henryville, including the town's high school, middle school, buses and almost every home in the city.

The E-F 4 tornado had winds of 175 miles per hour, 10TV News reported.

The check, made out to cash and signed by Patricia Walden, is clearly legible.

Stevens said that her cousin did a Web search, and the family discovered something interesting.

"When she read the people's names exactly as it is on the check that I've got, I knew then that I had something that had traveled a long distance to Grove City," Stevens said.

Aside from being a terrifying demonstration of the power of a Midwestern tornado, this incident also illustrates a couple of points about some of the potential pitfalls of checks.

Whether it's through theft, natural disasters or other unforeseen events, checks can literally end up anywhere. Destroying old checks you no longer need is a good way to help ensure your checking account information stays private.

Stevens obviously chose to do the right thing here and attempt to return the check, but there's no guarantee the person that runs into your lost check will do the same. That's especially true of checks made out to "cash," which can be cashed by anyone who happens to come across them. The check in question is more than 30 years old, so that would probably raise some eyebrows, but according to the "Uniform Commercial Code," a bank could still cash it if it wanted to.

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.

What do you think? How careful are you about handling checks? What would you do if you found a check written out to "cash" on the ground?

Follow me on Twitter: @ClaesBell.

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3 Comments
Tighe
April 12, 2012 at 5:55 pm

It may well be worth more or soon become worth more in real value as an antique/artifact/memorabilium. If you must cash it, then at least arrange to somehow retain the original or a bona-fide copy of the original.

Chris
April 11, 2012 at 8:22 pm

I would cash it and ask questions later !