I Have $132 In Overdraft Fees After Bank Cashes Post-Dated Check

A Consumerist reader wrote into us today to tell us how he ended up with $132 in overdraft fees, not because he went on a spending spree and didn’t manage his finances correctly, but because his eager beaver roommate went ahead and deposited his post-dated rent check almost a full week early.

Here it is straight from the reader:

I gave my roommate my rent check to turn in for the summer since he would be around taking summer courses. I told him not to cash the check before the 30th of May because I did not have enough money in the account, but being the idiot he is, he ended up cashing it yesterday on the 24th of May even though it was dated for the 30th. I did not have enough money in the bank, and the check overdrafted my account, and a few small charges I made over the weekend processed that day too so now my account is over drafted and Wachovia has hit me with 132 dollars in overdraft fees. I called Wachovia and talked to a supervisor to explain the situation and the most they could do is refund 32 dollars of the overdraft fee.

The reader wants to know if there’s anything else he can do in terms of getting Wachovia to reduce or refund the overdraft fees. Unfortunately, he’s out of luck. The reason: Just because you post-date a check doesn’t mean it can’t be deposited early.

Here’s how the Dept. of Treasury explains it:

National banks are permitted to pay checks even though payment occurs prior to the date of the check. A check is a negotiable instrument—the payee, the person to whom the check is written, may negotiate it through the banking system at any time.

If you have incurred damages because a check has been negotiated before its date, you should directly pursue the payee for restitution.

So if the reader wants restitution, he should be talking to his “idiot” roommate who deposited the check six days before he was supposed to.

Answers About Cashing Checks [Treasury Dept.]