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Check Cashing and Money Transmission - Financial Regulation

Check cashing services businesses cash checks for consumers who may or may not have an account with a financial institution. With the exception of retailers that cash checks for the exact amount of purchase and charge no more than 1.5% of the check amount, and financial institutions in general, Maryland requires all check cashers to be licensed. Licensed check cashers and financial institutions are limited to the following amounts of fees that they can charge to cash a check:

  • 2% of the face amount of the payment instrument or $3, if the payment instrument is issued by the federal government or a state or local government;
  • 10% of the face amount of a payment instrument or $5, if the payment instrument is a personal check;
  • 4% of the face amount of the payment instrument or $5, for any other payment instrument; and
  • And a one-time membership fee that may not exceed $5.

The Commissioner of Financial regulation has created a convenient brochure to help consumers better understand the check cashing fee structure under Maryland law.

If you believe you have been overcharged or have other complaints about a check cashing services business, you can file a complaint with the Commissioner of Financial Regulation.

It’s also important to remember that banks can charge to cash your check if you are not a customer or member, even if it is drawn from their bank. Visit the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency’s Answers about Cashing Checks or Consumer Financial Protection Bureau for FAQs on cashing a check at financial institutions.

Money transmission businesses offer many different types of products and services to consumers. These products and services include; money transmission or remittances, accelerated mortgages (also known as bi-weekly mortgage payments), bill payer services, money orders, traveler’s checks, and stored value devices (commonly known as prepaid cards and gift cards).

Money transmission licensees often operate through a network of authorized delegates. Authorized delegates will have a notice affixed to their wall with the licensee name and a toll-free phone number to reach the Commissioner. This notice will state: "The Commissioner of Financial Regulation for the State of Maryland will accept all questions or complaints regarding this authorized delegate of (name of licensee and license number) at (address of Commissioner), phone (toll-free phone number of the Commissioner)".

Money transmission products and services are attractive to criminals (scammers) because they are flexible and easy to use and manipulate. To protect yourself from becoming a victim of fraud, please remember the following:

  • Never send money to someone you do not know.
  • Never purchase a prepaid card and give the information to a stranger.
  • Never send money to win money.
  • Never send money when you have been contacted by phone or email.

Resources:
Maryland’s Project SAFE
Federal Trade Commission - Scam Alerts
Maryland Department of Human Resources - Project SAFE (Stop Adult Financial Exploitation)

If you have a problem with a money transmission product or service you can file a complaint with the Commissioner of Financial Regulation.