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Money’s There, But Check Is Still Declined

One child’s bedroom set: $1,300.

Certegy, the company that provides check authorization, declined use of a check, despite available fundsHaving our check declined in front of everyone at Babies “R” Us: totally humiliating.

This is exactly what happened to me and my wife last weekend.

We have perfect credit, money in the bank, have never bounced a check or been late on a payment. And we had well more than enough money in the account to cover the check.

So why was our check declined?

The store manager pinned it all on Certegy, the check clearing company.

A call to Certegy’s automated system gave me a less-than-justifiable reason:

“As a preventative measure, we were unable to authorize your check because it did not meet our check acceptance criteria based on our risk models. Certegy carefully analyzes patterns of check-writing activity….”

It continued to say that “these situations are rare.”

An agent said they had no further information. The company’s website, when it works, explains nothing.

Shopping at Babies “R” Us is certainly not in our normal check-writing activities. But neither is buying a $1,000 television at Best Buy or writing a $5,000 check for a down payment on a new car, both of which we’ve done in the past year with no problem.

What happened to us may not be all that uncommon. One post about Certegy check approval has more than 1,200 comments going back to 2006 about checks being declined through Certegy.

So what’s the solution to ensure that your check isn’t declined?

There may not be any.

Shopping at a new store, making a large purchase or writing a check in another city could all trigger an alarm. And you just can’t know what will set it off.

Do what worked for us after they declined our check: Pay with a debit card.

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  1. Tim Jowers said:
    on March 25th at 09:38 am

    As users of checks and plastic we often don’t consider the risk. With plastic, the risk is mostly all on the vendor. Perhaps with the check, Certegy has assumed some of the risk.A quick search shows that’s probably the case. So, in effect, the store (stuff R us or whatever) has differred its risk to them but also effectively now instituted an anti-check policy against large checks. Same stuff happened to me multiple times trying to use PayPal to rent a place when I moved to CA. The problem is the risk is real. Fraud is rampant. Since the cost for CC fraud falls on the merchant, then there is no unified front to combat it. Maybe Certegy will be more successful; but, looks like they are for sale so probably not.