I received a paycheck dated for August 3 on August 2 and attempted to cash it the same day, but the bank refused. I have heard that the bank is supposed to honor the check when it is presented. What is the right answer?
When a check dated for a future date (often called a post-dated check) is presented for payment at the bank on which it's drawn, that bank may pay it or not pay it. It's up to the bank, unless the issuer of the check has notified the bank of the fact a check is post-dated and asks the bank not to pay it.
Some check issuers routinely send out post-dated checks and direct that their banks not honor checks early. These are usually insurance companies or others making annuity or retirement payments. Some of these checks have instructions on them indicating that the bank accepting such a check warrants that the payee was alive on the date of the check. If you take a check to any bank other than the bank it's drawn on, there is no obligation whatsoever for that bank to cash the check, even if your account is there, so if your bank has a policy of not cashing post-dated payroll checks, you'll have to wait until "payday" to get your money.
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