If you have ever written a check and made it payable to someone but included a future date, you have postdated a check. The most common reason why you would postdate a check is if you are unsure about the number of funds that you currently have in your account. By postdating and informing the recipient that they shouldn’t cash the check until later, it gives you some time to check your account and be 100 percent sure that you have enough funds to cover the amount owed. While you may have written a postdated check in the past or known someone that has done this and given a check to you, is this legal?
Attempting To Defraud
It’s not illegal to postdate a check if your intention is to make sure that you have enough funds in your account to cover the amount owed. However, if you postdate a check and have no intentions of actually paying a person or entity the amount owed, you are committing a crime. In all 50 states, it is illegal to defraud an entity or individual by paying for services or goods when you know that there are inadequate funds available in your account. If you attempt to postdate a check without funds in your account, you will be held liable for the amount owed and could possibly pay fines and be put in jail. The amount that you try to defraud and severity of your crime will dictate the punishment that you receive.
It’s a good idea to check your state law before you postdate a check and give it to an entity or another person. Some states dictate that it is the responsibility of the person writing the check to make sure that there are enough funds deposited in their account to ensure that a check does not bounce. Other states take an opposite stance and will hold the recipient liable if a check is cashed before the date that is written on the check.
Even though most bank tellers know that a check should not be cashed before the date that’s written on a check that they are handling, they may not even look at the date. It is probably best to not postdate any check when you are unsure about the number of funds that you have available. By following this practice, you won’t get hit with any fees if the bank pays out funds and you overdraw your account.
Work With Your Bank
If you work with your bank, you may be able to write a postdated check. You would need to contact your bank by writing them with a request to hold funds until the future date that you write on a check. If you do this within a reasonable time before they receive your check, the bank is required to honor your written request. You can also make an oral request for this as well. However, it will only protect you for 14 days, which is significantly less than the six months allowed when a written request is used.
If you do make a written request to your bank, you must include your account number, check number, the amount owed and the recipient’s name. They may contact you regarding this transaction.