What Is a Certified Check?

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What Is a Certified Check?

What Is a Certified Check?
The last thing you want to worry about when making a large purchase is being scammed. Whether you buy or sell something, you don't want your money or investments to be lost. Making a financial decision can be disquieting for your budget when you are faced with a risk of fraud. That's where certified checks can help increase security. But first, what is a certified check?

A certified check is authorized by a bank to ensure that buyers have the money before they write the check. This ensures that the person receiving the payment is not left behind, and the buyer double-checks they have enough money to make the purchase.

Why use a certified check?

A certified check is one of the most secure payment options. When you sell or buy expensive items, you want to make sure you get what you expected. Certified cheques generally require a bank or credit union to set funds aside in the buyer's account until the cheque has gone through. This way, the bank checks that the buyer has enough money to make the purchase and the seller is paid. If you are selling a large ticket item, you can request payment with a certified check.

If you're buying an expensive item, certified checks offer your seller additional security. It will prove to the seller that you take your choice seriously and that your finances are in order for this investment. 

Certified Check vs. Cashier's Check

A cash cheque is also used for large purchases and authorized by a bank or credit union. The main difference between cash cheques and certified cheques is where the money is kept until it is cashed. Before a cash check is signed, the banks will place the money in a separate account for security purposes. A representative of the bank will then sign the cheque to the recipient. 

While both types of cheque are generally secure, the cashier's cheques are usually more secure. If the banks take the buyer's money when they approve the check, your funds will wait at the bank rather than in your buyer's account until they are paid out.

How to get a certified check

how to get a certified check
For buyers looking for certified cheques, most banks or credit unions offer these services. While you can get them from financial institutions that offer these services, fees may be charged at banks where you do not have an account. If you need a certified cheque, read our tips below:

  • Call your bank to make sure you meet all their requirements. 
  • Visit the bank in person to avoid accidents or miscommunication. 
  • Come along prepared:
  1. Money needed for the amount of the cheque
  2. Name of the recipient
  3. Your account number 
  4. Photo ID
  • Check your identity and money with a photo ID and bank account numbers for authorization. You may be asked to sign the check for a cashier so they can certify it. 
  • Bring extra cash in case your bank charges a service fee, usually in the range of $5 to $25. A bank with which you already provide service may waive your fees.

The Pros and Cons of Certified Checks

Certified checks reduce the risk of carrying large amounts of money or bouncing checks. There are a few pros and cons you should consider before choosing your payment option as a buyer or seller.


  • Safer way to take cash with you: Certified checks are great tools for large purchases. It can be impractical to carry a large pile of cash or the risk of a regular check. This way, you can cash your earnings or pay the seller without worries. 
  • Adds extra payment security: For large purchases where a buyer's credit score or payment is questioned, this adds extra security. Because the bank issuing the cheque double-checks whether the money is there, it takes more risk out of the deal. 


  • Scammers may be ready to defraud: A disadvantage of this payment option is the risk of fraud. It is common for companies to buy bulk products from the state in exchange for a certified cheque. If you realize that your purchase is a scam after sending your check, you may not be able to stop the payment.
  • Possible service costs: As always, banking services are usually at a price. In this case, most banks and credit unions will bill you for the time used to certify the check. Generally, these services will cost anywhere between $5 and $25. If you decide to apply for a certified check from a bank you are already doing business with, they may waive your fee. 

4 Tips to Prevent Cheque Fraud

how to prevent check fraud
Forty-seven percent of the industry's monetary losses came from fraudulent audits in 2018. Taking the extra steps to double-check your buyer's payment can prevent your budget from being hit. Follow the steps below to make sure you and your revenue are on the right track:

1. Investigate your buyer

People can use fake names, addresses, phone numbers and more to get away with a scam. Without knowing the identity of the person you're selling to, it can be difficult to get your money if things go wrong. Investigate your buyer or make a safe meeting with him or her to get a better sense of his or her identity. 

2. Call or visit your buyer's Bank of Choice.

For more certainty, contact the financial institution where the cheque is issued. Contact your buyer to see where they will authorise their cheque. Locate the telephone number of the branch and call to check if the cheque has expired. Avoid calling any phone numbers the buyer gives you in case they give you the wrong number. 

3. Immediately double check with your bank

Immediately after you have been paid, go directly to the bank or call to make sure there are no complications in processing the check. Ask your bank or credit union if the money has arrived safely in your account. 

4. Keep all documents

Receipts, emails and other information can build a case in case you do not receive your payment. Keep all documentation or files until you have paid in full. As long as you have all the details, you are more likely to build a case. 

Key takeaway

  • A certified cheque is a cheque authorized by a bank to ensure that buyers have the money before they write the cheque. 
  • When you sell or buy a large item, certified cheques are a less risky payment option. 
  • If you're not sure about your buyer, do more digging. Investigate them, call the buyer's bank, and save all documents and files from the exchange. 
  • Call your bank in advance to make sure you meet all the requirements and ask for the service costs. 
Having an uncomfortable feeling about selling or buying a large ticket item is normal. You don't want your hard-earned money or investments to be wasted by a bounced check or scam. Certified checks can be a safer payment option and it's worth the extra research for your budget.

Was this article helpful? Yes -0 No -0119 Posted by: 👨 Mario A. Mays
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