The term "forged check" is often used to describe a check on which the drawer’s signature is forged or unauthorized. Such a check is meaningless as far as the drawer whose signature is forged is concerned. The drawee bank that pays a forged check is generally held responsible for the resulting loss. A counterfeit check has been regarded as the equivalent of a forged check.

Who Is Liable for a Forged Check?

The forgery of a person’s signature normally imposes no liability against the forgery victim, but the forger is liable as a signer of the instrument, even where he signs in a name other than his own.

Does My Bank Have Liability for Processing a Forged Check?

A bank paying a forged check may not charge the amount of the check against the account of the person whose name is forged. Any loss resulting from the payment of a forged check must be borne by the drawee or payor bank.

Is There a Time Limit for Making a Claim Regarding a Forged Check?

Most states have a statute of limitations or time limit by which you must file a claim against a bank for processing forged checks. Typically the time limitation for filing a suit runs from the date on which the depositor makes a demand of the bank for reimbursement for the amount of the forged checks. From this time the depositor has one or two years to file his suit depending on the state.

Who Must Show That the Signature Was a Forgery in Court?

This question may be better expressed as two separate questions: 

  • Where a person being paid by check seeks to enforce payment of a check and the defendant (purported check writer) alleges that his signature is forged or an endorsement is forged, must the defendant prove the forgery or must the plaintiff prove the genuineness of the signature?
  • Where a person seeks to set aside and recover a payment on the ground of forgery of the drawer’s signature or of an endorsement (i.e. where a depositor sues the drawee bank to have his account recredited) must the plaintiff prove the forgery or must the defendant prove the genuineness of the signature?

In both cases the plaintiff bears the burden of proof.

Do I Need a Lawyer to File a Forgery Claim against My Bank?

Typically your bank’s forged check policy is set forth in the information packet they give you when you open an account with them. If it is not, or your bank refuses to answer questions about a potential forged check, you may wish to contact a finance lawyer who can speak with the bank, and figure out the best course of action for you.