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Business Continuity Planning: Responding to a Check Services disruption to services

September 15, 2011

This is part of a series of communications that will provide information and resources on ways to help enhance and maintain your organization's business continuity plans for a variety of situations.

The Federal Reserve Banks' Check Services include Check 21 FedForward®, FedReturn®, FedReceipt® and FedReceipt Plus, as well as forward and return paper item processing and check adjustments services. During a check processing disruption, Federal Reserve staff will work to ensure the highest possible level of service. A successful return to normal service levels will require both cooperation and communication between financial institutions and the Federal Reserve Banks.  

The Federal Reserve Banks have a number of procedures in place to help ensure resiliency of Check Services.  These procedures, which include fail-over systems in place to reduce the potential for lengthy processing disruptions, are routinely tested to help ensure timely resumption of operations.

To minimize the impact of a Check Services disruption, financial institutions are encouraged to familiarize themselves with the Federal Reserve’s Check Services Business Continuity Guide, which provides information on what to expect and do during a Check Services disruption. Your institution’s normal operating procedures, record keeping practices and attention to daily routine are important safeguards against check processing interruptions.

Additionally, organizations should ensure their business continuity plans are current and staff is familiar with them. Consider the impact seasonal weather could potentially have on check processing. In situations where hurricanes or winter weather may impact check operations for the Federal Reserve or for you, reviewing these procedures with your organization and being prepared to take necessary steps can help you to minimize impact to your customers.

The Federal Reserve Banks Check Services Customer Support Center will broadcast information to financial institutions using e-mail, Service Status, FedLine® Home, telephone or fax. In the event you need to contact the Check Services Customer Support Center, they can be reached at (877) FRB-CHKS or (877) 372-2457. The Check Services Customer Support Center encompasses support for Check Adjustments, Check 21, FedImage® Archive, Electronic Check (Payor) Services, Paper Check Processing/Inquiries and LDRIN. 

In addition, the Federal Reserve Banks will provide customers with the current operational status via the Service Status page along with additional instructions, as necessary. In most disruptions, we post alerts and updates approximately every 30 – 60 minutes. One of the most critical components during a contingency scenario is ensuring Federal Reserve Banks have the ability to communicate with your organization and notify all pertinent personnel at your institution of the service disruption.


Information Resources

For more information about Check Services contingency planning, please review the online Check Services Business Continuity Guide. Also, the National Business Continuity Guide provides continuity information for all Federal Reserve Banks products and services in the event of a service disruption. Look for more proactive steps to help ensure your payments resiliency in future FedFlash issues.

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