If your bank validates the error, it will refund the amount as well as the interest accrued (if it is an interest-bearing account) within one business day.
Additionally, if your bank cannot immediately determine the veracity of the claim within 10 business days, it will refund part of the amount in question -- up to $2,500 per substitute check plus the interest accrued. The remaining amount of the claim plus interest must be refunded by the 45th day unless the bank has determined that the claim is invalid.
Unfortunately, the processing speed will not allow consumers to get credited faster for deposits. However, there is a federal rule, the Expedited Funds Availability Act, which stipulates the maximum period of time your bank can take to make funds available to you.
Check first: Before you write a check, no matter the amount, make sure you have sufficient funds to cover the transaction. Otherwise, with the diminished float period, you will end up paying hefty overdraft fees.
Balance your checkbook : While this sounds obvious, according to the Consumer Federation of America, only one in eight people actually do so. Additionally, more than ever, it is important to open your monthly bank statement and check to see if your charges are correct. If you discover a problem with your checking account, notify your banking institution immediately.
Bank online: The best way to avoid the possible headache from Check 21 is to eliminate writing paper checks. The typical consumer pays between eight to 15 bills every month. Converting your paper to online payments is a sure way to keep track of your bills as you pay them. Banking online allows you to view a copy of your canceled check with a simple click of a mouse. Other benefits of paying bills online include a bill reminder feature that automatically sends you an e-mail notifying you of an outstanding balance or an upcoming bill due date, the option to select your own bill payment dates, create a log of your payments and assisting you in organizing your overall finances.
Mellody Hobson, president of Ariel Capital Management (arielmutualfunds.com) in Chicago, is "Good Morning America's" personal finance expert. Ariel associates Matthew Yale and Aimee Daley contributed to this report.