Merchants accustomed to wielding large rubber stamps to splash information across a customer's check should beware: Times have changed.

Come September, the federal Expedited Funds Availability Act will require customers and merchants endorsing checks to restrict their endorsement to no more than 11/2 inches on the upper left end of the back of the check.The idea is that check processing will be expedited if bank employees don't have to decipher the montage of stamped information and miscellaneous scribbles resulting when each person who handles the check adds his two-cents worth in willy-nilly fashion.

Under the new law, most in-state deposits must be credited to the depositor's account within three days. Utah banking officials say they are accustomed to meeting that deadline already and so have no complaints about the new law.

Merchants, however, are not quite so thrilled about the check law. Many of them learned of the requirements only recently and now have less than a month to do away with those large rubber stamps or mechanical devices that do not meet the new guidelines.

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Some say they simply can't do it by the Sept. 1 deadline; others say they can beat the deadline, but only by digging deep into their pockets.

Failure to comply with the new law could mean delays in having funds credited to their accounts. In turn, checks drawn on that account would bounce.

At this point, there is nothing that can be done to extend that deadline, so merchants will simply have to make do as best they can with the new requirements.

Congress needs to be more mindful of the practical consequences of its actions and build in greater flexibility in implementing new regulations.

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