DEFINITION of 'Check Clearing For The 21st Century Act - Check 21'

A federal law that took effect on October 28, 2004, and gives banks and other organizations the ability to create electronic image copies of consumers' checks. The images are then sent to the relevant financial institutions to be processed, where money from a consumer's account is transferred to the receiving party's account.

BREAKING DOWN 'Check Clearing For The 21st Century Act - Check 21'

This law aims to make use of technology to reduce or eliminate the costs involved with paper check processing. For example, the cost of physically transporting a paper check from one part of the country to another is far higher than the delivery of an image of a check across a secure network.

After a predetermined holding period has elapsed, banks may destroy the original paper check. However, not all banks do this and in some cases, consumers may be able to ask for their cashed checks back for record-keeping purposes.

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