Read about how to order checks and the options available.
Consumers who use business or personal checks have several options to order checks. The traditional method of ordering through the financial institution where the checking account is held is always an option. However, consumers can skip their financial institution and order directly from Web-based or mail order check printers. Business owners or individuals who write many checks may want to order check printing software and supplies to quickly and easily print their own checks. Whichever option is chosen, consumers need a few basic pieces of information to order checks.
Before placing an order, the following must be gathered:
In addition, personal checks should include sufficient information to contact the account holder, but not enough to encourage identity theft. Items such as name (or business name), address or post office box and optional phone number are generally all the information needed. In addition, the information printed on the check needs to match the information on file at the financial institution.
In order to avoid identity theft, consumers are encouraged not to include personal information like driver's license or Social Security numbers on checks. These numbers can be used to create fraudulent credit accounts or to get a job using the taxpayer's information. The Internal Revenue Service warns that if an employer reports wages for an employee who is using a stolen Social Security number, it appears the rightful owner neglected to report additional income. The victim is then faced with resolving the tax issue.
Likewise, sensitive business information can also be used to commit fraud. Federal Employer Identification Numbers, (commonly called EIN or FEIN) as well as state ID and permit numbers, can give thieves access to financial information. As a means of protection, owners might consider leaving this type of information off of company checks except where otherwise directed by law.
Most banks and credit unions offer check ordering services for the convenience of account holders. Account holders normally can order checks in person at the institution, by mail or over the Internet. Some banks and credit unions may offer the option of allowing customers to pick up orders on-site. This eliminates security concerns involved with shipping the product to a business or residence. Design variety is often limited, but many financial institutions offer free starter checks so new account holders can immediately begin writing checks on the account.
Numerous Web sites exist for purchasing checks online. A wide variety of check designs with customizable features are available. In addition, the checks frequently are less expensive than bank checks. Payment for online printing is generally made by credit card or automatic transfer of checking account funds.
As with any online purchase, consumers should take some steps to ensure that the Web site is legitimate and secure. OnGuardOnline.gov recommends confirming the physical address and phone number of the company. Consumers can use resources, such as the Check Payment Systems Association to find trustworthy online check printers.
Consumers without computer access can also order checks by mail. Previously purchased boxes of checks usually include a re-order form, and mail-order and online vendors often advertise in magazines, newspapers and coupon circulars.
Check writing software is available to print bank-approved, legally binding checks. Programs offer versatility with a wide array of functions, from stand-alone check printing to comprehensive personal or business accounting. Many programs work with popular personal and small business accounting software.
Most ink jet and laser printers are compatible, but magnetic ink is recommended for faster processing. SRI International explains that automated Magnetic Ink Character Recognition (MICR) readers scan routing and account numbers during the banking process. Without magnetic ink, the checks must be processed manually and may be subject to additional fees.
Printing checks offers flexibility in check design, including choosing from a variety of weights and sizes of perforated check safety papers. Many check printing programs offer a number of design options and decorative stock images. Some allow users to import additional images as well.
Check printing software is generally an economical option. Magnetic ink is competitively priced, and checks can be printed on an as-needed basis with virtually no waste. Should account numbers or financial institutions change, a few keystrokes solve the problem with no need to shred boxes of unused checks and re-order new ones.