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Check safekeeping

Check safekeeping is an important term to understand. Here’s what it means.

What is check safekeeping?

Check safekeeping is an account feature that authorizes a bank to keep copies of canceled checks instead of returning them with a statement. The checks, or copies of them, are available upon request by the bank customer. Checks are recorded by a financial institution before being destroyed.

Deeper definition

Banks offer accountholders a service called “check safekeeping” to streamline monthly statements. The process utilizes electronics such as scanners to produce images that are easy to read. Once all checks have been copied electronically, the paper versions are destroyed at an approved facility. This final step ensures security for all parties. A bank may impose a one-time or monthly fee to provide this service.

The National Association of Check Safekeeping has rules and regulations for these services. The organization works with electronic processors and financial institutions to provide education, risk assessment and advocacy related to the issue. It lists over 100,000 member institutions that deal with check safekeeping.

Check safekeeping example

A person writes a check to her city water department for the monthly bill. At the department, the bill is processed and deposited at the city’s approved financial institution. After the transaction is complete, the check writer’s bank will receive the check and begin processing it. The image is taken and cataloged along with any numbers related to the account. Afterward, it is destroyed through a paper shredder or similar device.

The bill payer can check on the progress of her check and view an image by accessing her account on a secure site. If she needs a copy of the check for her records, she can print out the image or request a paper check before it is destroyed by contacting the bank in a reasonable amount of time.

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