Kokua Line

By June Watanabe

Saturday, June 5, 1999

Federal check
policy clarified

Question: When I went to deposit our federal tax refund check, payable to myself and my husband, I was told a new federal ruling requires that we both have to endorse the check before the bank can accept it for deposit into our joint account. Does this ruling apply to all government checks -- federal, state and city? How about jointly named checks from insurance companies, stock dividend checks, CD interest and other checks made payable to joint names?

I never carry around endorsed checks, which I think, if I lose, can be cashed by someone who finds them. Is there any way an endorsed check can be protected, by not being cashed, but only deposited into a bank account?

Answer: Apparently there was some misunderstanding. There is no federal ruling involved.

We checked with American Savings Bank, where you have your account, and found it is the bank's policy to request two signatures if a federal or state refund check is made payable to two people.

This policy has been in effect since 1997. However, based on your query, it is being reviewed and a decision will be made soon on possibly changing that policy, bank officials said.

By way of explanation, Robert Costa, vice president of branch operations for American Savings, noted that personal endorsements are required on any type of federal benefit check, such as Social Security, Veterans Administration compensation, and retirement; federal and state tax refund checks; and any insurance claim checks.

"By endorsing the check, both parties acknowledge that they have received the check and have received proper credit for their share of the check amount," he said.

"Under regulations governing these checks, even if a check is deposited into an account of the same name, a joint owner can make a claim against the bank for 50 percent of the funds if they did not acknowledge receipt of the check by endorsing the item."

He said he understands your concerns about carrying around an endorsed check. One suggestion is to have only one person endorse the check, then have the second person endorse it in the presence of the teller at the time of deposit.

"If a check is lost or stolen, a claim can be filed with the federal or state government or insurance company to stop payment on the check," Costa said.

Q: The outdoor basketball court at Booth Park in Pauoa Valley has been under renovation for several months. There doesn't appear to be any work progressing. Why is it taking so long and when is it projected to finish?

A: It's taken so long because the courts had to be "reconstructed," said Craig Mayeda, head of Park Maintenance and Recreation Services for the city Department of Parks and Recreation.

The good news is that a final inspection of the work is scheduled for Thursday. If there are no problems -- and Mayeda said a quick look this week showed none -- then the court will be opened the next day, Kamehameha Day.


To the lady walking her child on 8th Avenue in Kaimuki. I've seen her feeding our neighbor's dog and encouraging her child to do the same.

I asked the same residents if I could feed the dog and was kindly asked not to. Without checking first, she sets a bad example for her child to not respect another person's property and belongings. -- No name.

Need help with problems? Call Kokua Line at 525-8686,
fax 525-6711, or write to P.O. Box 3080, Honolulu 96802.
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