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#1
Old 07-03-2003, 08:10 PM
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Can I print my own checks?

My aunt worked at a bank and she had a text that I read when I was younger that basically said that anything (e.g. paper napkin) was considered a legal check if everything contained within the 4 corners was accurate and on the up and up, and assuming you could get someone to take it, I presume.
As an artist, with an intaglio printer, could I print my own cool art checks and legally pass them? Or are there federal regs against it?
#2
Old 07-03-2003, 08:52 PM
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Yes.
#3
Old 07-03-2003, 09:05 PM
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With no malice intended, I think I'll give it whirl.....

Thanks, 3waygeek
#4
Old 07-03-2003, 10:06 PM
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It is perfectly legal to make your own checks. HOWEVER, in order to insure they are accepted, you must duplicate the appropriate key elements in the proper areas and the encoding at the bottom of the check (ABA#, account #, check #) must be in magnetic ink (might not be true anymore with new technology) in the proper font so it can be read electronically.

Preprinted checks started as a convenience (that's why they are called pre-printed) that has almost become a necessity. I can't see any merchant accepting a "check" written on a brown paper bag these days. Even preprinted checks come under scrutiny and often require you to produce numerous other forms of identification in order to have one accepted.

It is to your advantage that, even if you decide to design your own checks that you use "safety paper" which is available at any office supply store.
#5
Old 07-03-2003, 10:09 PM
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I read something similar once, and tried to pay my rent on standard lined paper. The landlord tried it just for fun, but was told that the bank wouldn't deal with.

Just one piece of actual experience...
#6
Old 07-04-2003, 12:02 AM
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Quote:
Originally posted by Cardinal
I read something similar once, and tried to pay my rent on standard lined paper. The landlord tried it just for fun, but was told that the bank wouldn't deal with.

Just one piece of actual experience...
Bank of America apparently used to be less picky.
#7
Old 07-04-2003, 02:23 AM
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I print my own checks all the time and have done it for years.
#8
Old 07-04-2003, 03:27 AM
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Yeah, read that story already. And it's First Interstate, not BofA. Which doesn't really matter, except that FI doesn't exist any more.
#9
Old 07-04-2003, 05:34 AM
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sailor, just curious...what method do you use and do you include all the info suggested by Cillasi?
#10
Old 07-04-2003, 09:10 AM
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Slight hijack... re the column 3waygeek linked to. The "cheque on the side of a cow" story got debunked - well, I noticed on the way into work this morning that Barclays are using that story in its adverts on the Tube (at Bank station, I think, for any other Londoners that wanted to look). There's even a photo of the cow cheque, whether real or not I don't know, and Barclays claim to be the bank that cashed it - they even name the branch, I think. I wonder if Barclays are perpetuating an urban myth... or whether there actually was a (different) occasion where this happened.

Come to think about it, I definitely remember reading about it in an old (1971 I think) Guinness Book of Records, too.
#11
Old 07-04-2003, 11:11 AM
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How would you "cancel" such a check on a cow, after cashing it?
#12
Old 07-04-2003, 12:05 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by butler1850
How would you "cancel" such a check on a cow, after cashing it?
I think the answer is obvious..

[Homer]
Hmmmmm... Cancelled cow check...arrgghhhhhhh
[/homer]
#13
Old 07-04-2003, 12:15 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by r_k
Come to think about it, I definitely remember reading about it in an old (1971 I think) Guinness Book of Records, too.
I heard the story back in college, so take it back another 10 years. This gets it back to the days, when people did things without worrying about whether they fit the norm or were politically correct.
#14
Old 07-04-2003, 12:19 PM
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I printed my own checks for a long time, and then suddenly my bank account was frozen so I couldn't access my money at all. After some investigation, it turned out that my checking account number was off by one digit on the last set I printed. They had also suggested the regular Hewlett-Packard printer's ink I used could be to blame, but it turned out to be the number.

So if you do, make sure every number is perfect. I always proof-read the checks, but mistakes can still happen!
#15
Old 07-04-2003, 02:13 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by Hombre
sailor, just curious...what method do you use and do you include all the info suggested by Cillasi?
I print them to look like regular preprinted checks, that is, they include the special font routing digits etc BUT not in magnetic ink, just regular ink. The magnetic ink has never been a problem for me. Either they have optical readers or they just input the digits by hand when the magnetic reader fails.

Never had any problems with the numbering of the checks either. I do number them correctly in sequence but one time my signature crossed through those digits and they were read incorrectly to duplicate another check which had already been paid. The check was paid anyway and when I called the bank to tell them they had paid the check correctly but the number they recorded was wrong, they said it didn't matter as those numbers are just for my convenience and they didn't care what numbers I gave my checks. I could give them all the same number for all they cared.

I also print my own background which is just a graphic of my name in tiny type repeated a billion times in very light blue color but I have also used plain white paper or other backgrounds I have found. For example, some notepads can have backgrounds which work pretty well.

I used to print my checks with a matrix printer and then it was obvious they were home-made but I only had one or two rejected in those years. One of them was TIME magazine who had accepted them for years and then one year they returned it. On the phone I told them they had accepted them before and everybody else accepted them and I was not about to have checks printed just for them so they could accept it or cancel my subscription and they finally accepted it.
#16
Old 07-04-2003, 06:39 PM
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There are lots of software packages for sale that let you print your own checks, either on plane paper (not a good idea) or on safety paper.

Some examples are "VersaCheck" (I could never get that one to work) or "CheckMagic" (works much better). Just do a web search and you will find lots of them.

You can also try doing the same thing with your word processing program, but it can be difficult to get things to print in exactly the right spots. And they are getting more stringent on requiring specific markings (like the numbers on the bottom of checks) in specific locations relative to the edge of the paper.

Most banks use standard OCR equipment which reads them fine, so magnetic ink isn't needed. If you do run across a bank using older equipment that won't accept your checks, you can either buy a toner cartridge of magnetic toner (expensive) or just switch to another bank.

You can certainly save money doing this, at the cost of a bit of your time. But you can have fun, too. Paying your Wal-Mart bill with a check all covered with tiny background printing saying "Wal-Mart sucks!" can be quite an enjoyable way to fight back.
#17
Old 07-04-2003, 06:43 PM
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Sigh -- I meant plain paper, not "plane".

Don't know what plane paper would be, but it might be interesting.
#18
Old 07-04-2003, 07:01 PM
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>> You can also try doing the same thing with your word processing program, but it can be difficult to get things to print in exactly the right spots. And they are getting more stringent on requiring specific markings (like the numbers on the bottom of checks) in specific locations relative to the edge of the paper

I print my own checks with everything in place and I do it just with MS-WORD. I have it set up to print 4 checks on a regular letter size sheet.

Most checks I print are for payments to companies (utilities, magazines, etc) and there's practically no risk they'd be altered so I have no problem printing on white paper. But, as I say, I most often like to print my own background or use paper with any suitable background, if only because "it looks more like a check".

BTW, when I printed with the dot-matrix printer I had to create the bank font myself. After I switched to windows I had some trouble finding that font. You need that for the routing characters along the bottom of the check.
#19
Old 07-04-2003, 09:33 PM
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Thanks all.
A couple of comments;
As I said I'm an artist so the idea would be more a merger of art and finance. Each 'run' would be a limited edtion (I suppose if I were to get famous enough, the 'art' might be worth more than the check causing people to keep not cash them. But this is not the intent as it wouldn't save me anything unless I was writing some pretty big checks).
[email protected], plane paper...isn't that what you use for paper airplains (wink)?
#20
Old 07-05-2003, 01:49 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by Cillasi
It is perfectly legal to make your own checks. HOWEVER, in order to insure they are accepted, you must duplicate the appropriate key elements in the proper areas and the encoding at the bottom of the check (ABA#, account #, check #) must be in magnetic ink (might not be true anymore with new technology) in the proper font so it can be read electronically.
It is still true, magnetic ink is still the standard in the banking industry.


Quote:
Originally posted by Sailor
I print them to look like regular preprinted checks, that is, they include the special font routing digits etc BUT not in magnetic ink, just regular ink. The magnetic ink has never been a problem for me. Either they have optical readers or they just input the digits by hand when the magnetic reader fails.
Yes, they have to re-encode the checks to go through (or put them into sleeves and encode the sleeve). That's why many banks won't accept non-preprinted checks. It means they actually have to DO something instead of dumping them into a machine and moving on.

Quote:
Originally posted by [email protected]
Most banks use standard OCR equipment which reads them fine, so magnetic ink isn't needed. If you do run across a bank using older equipment that won't accept your checks, you can either buy a toner cartridge of magnetic toner (expensive) or just switch to another bank.
Most banks don't use OCR, YET. There is new regulation going through saying that an optical image of a check is as good as the physical check in a legal sense. That means that most banks will eventually be scanning the checks and then trashing them (the law says they CAN, but if it saves them money all banks probably WILL). The electronic image of the check is what will be transmitted to the Federal Reserve, issuing bank, etc. The law is expected to go through without any hitches and will have an effective date of about a year after the law passes. It is known as POPS or Check Truncation Act. See here for a brief summary and a link to the FRB discussing it in more detail. Also, this is the U.S. Senate's info on the bill (with typical overinflated wording, legaleze, and everything else you would expect from the government). I forgot what the House of Representative's calls their act.
#21
Old 07-05-2003, 02:31 PM
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Well, as I said, I have been printing my own checks for over 15 years now, with a crude dotmatrix printer at first, and I have *never* had any check rejected by any bank. The fact that one check number was read incorrectly because my signature crossed it shows the machine was in fact reading optically my printed characters and they were not input by hand or there was any other magnetic sleeve.
#22
Old 07-05-2003, 04:52 PM
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sailor, out of curiosity why do you do this? I understand Hombre's interest as an artist. Do you have another reason?

Also, would you be willing to email a template and fonts to those interested (such as myself)?
#23
Old 07-05-2003, 05:36 PM
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I think I started doing it the first time I ran out of checks. I realised I was paying the same people month after month so I preprinted checks with the payees, acount numbers (Mortgage, utilities, etc) and in the case of fixed monthly payments, like the mortgage I printed the amount too. It saved me a lot of writing and it looked neater.
I could print all checks once a year and only fill the amount if needed.

I have emailed you the WORD document and the font. Let me know if you have any problems.

As I said, I also print a light blue background sometimes but that is a different thing, not part of that WORD document.
#24
Old 07-05-2003, 06:13 PM
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sailor, it looks great, and thanks. Nice auto-numbering as well.

I use Quicken to print most checks on preprinted "check stock"; I'm surprised they don't have an option to print full checks on blank paper.
#25
Old 07-05-2003, 06:24 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by Bill H.
I use Quicken to print most checks on preprinted "check stock"; I'm surprised they don't have an option to print full checks on blank paper.
And where do you buy that check stock from?
#26
Old 07-05-2003, 06:29 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by Swede Hollow
There is new regulation going through saying that an optical image of a check is as good as the physical check in a legal sense. That means that most banks will eventually be scanning the checks and then trashing them (the law says they CAN, but if it saves them money all banks probably WILL). The electronic image of the check is what will be transmitted to the Federal Reserve, issuing bank, etc. The law is expected to go through without any hitches and will have an effective date of about a year after the law passes. It is known as POPS or Check Truncation Act. See here for a brief summary and a link to the FRB discussing it in more detail. Also, this is the U.S. Senate's info on the bill.
Slight correction: the image of the check will not be transmitted. Only the account details, read from the MICR, will be transmitted. The retailer will keep the image of the check which can be used for dispute resolution. The retailer may also provide access to the images to the authorizing company, e.g. TeleCheck, again for dispute resolution. However, there is no reason to transmit the check images themselves as they provide no additional useful information in the normal case, and they would add several Kb to every message.
#27
Old 07-05-2003, 07:26 PM
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amarone wrote
Quote:
And where do you buy that check stock from?
Well, let me be clear about the "check stock". It's really just 8.5"x11" sheets of blank checks. In my particular case, I use ones that use a full page per check, which is perforated into thirds. I keep the lower third and staple it to the bill that was paid. The top third is the actual check, and the middle third has the basic info that the check contains, who it's too, from, amount, date, etc. The top 2/3's gets folded in half along the one-third perforation and mailed. The recipient can keep the middle third for accounting records if they want.

You can get it lots of places. Googling on "blank checks" brings up tons.
#28
Old 07-05-2003, 10:33 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by Bill H.
amarone wrote

Well, let me be clear about the "check stock". It's really just 8.5"x11" sheets of blank checks. In my particular case, I use ones that use a full page per check, which is perforated into thirds. I keep the lower third and staple it to the bill that was paid. The top third is the actual check, and the middle third has the basic info that the check contains, who it's too, from, amount, date, etc. The top 2/3's gets folded in half along the one-third perforation and mailed. The recipient can keep the middle third for accounting records if they want.

You can get it lots of places. Googling on "blank checks" brings up tons.
OK, so I didn't get the answer I was expecting. My point was going to be that Intuit sells "check stock", so they hardly have an incentive to provide the function to print on plain paper.
#29
Old 07-13-2003, 02:09 PM
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Citbank now lets customers see the check images online so I went to see one of my clerared checks which I have posted here. I notice several things. One is that they have added the amount in the special characters of the bottom line. I could have printed than myself too and it might not be a bad idea to do in the future as it prevent tampering.

You can see the bottom line contains the bank's routing number, account number, check number and check amount. The special symbols identify what each number represents.

Then you can see the scan has the same characters again lower down. It may be the check was put in some sleeve or something. I have no idea. Also there is some printing on the left, outside the check, and I have no idea about this either.

You can see I printed the check on some paper taken from a pad which was a light blue with the symbol for recycling on it because it was made from recycled paper. It made qute a suitable background.
#30
Old 07-14-2003, 12:28 AM
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The depository bank (or sometimes, the recipient if it's a large business) will encode the amount. In this case the routing or account number were unreadable (probably because it was not magnetic ink) so they sleaved it and re-encoded the whole thing on the sleave.
#31
Old 07-14-2003, 08:56 AM
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sailor email me your Word file.
#32
Old 07-14-2003, 09:34 AM
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I work for a printing company and we routinely design and print blank cheques for companies....it's a nice way to have personalized cheque backgrounds etc.
#33
Old 10-30-2015, 04:28 AM
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Sailor, would you please send me the WORD document and the Font that you use as well?
Thanks!
#34
Old 10-30-2015, 05:28 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jfroesch View Post
Sailor, would you please send me the WORD document and the Font that you use as well?
Thanks!
Welcome to the forums, jfroesch. I doubt sailor will see your request. This thread was last posted to in 2003 and sailor was last active on these forums in February, 2014. Chances are someone else may be able to help you out, though.

Last edited by cochrane; 10-30-2015 at 05:28 AM.
#35
Old 10-30-2015, 10:18 AM
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I suspect the reason sailor's scanned check showed a second line of special characters was because his printed check didn't use magnetic ink. I honestly don't know if that's even an issue nowadays, it seems like everything is optical.

My first impulse would be to simply call my bank and ask them if they have any help or suggestions or rules about self printed checks.

Plenty of websites/youtubes for "print your own checks."
#36
Old 10-30-2015, 11:06 AM
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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Board_o...enue_v_Haddock

By the way, how long do you expect to go on using cheques? Electronic transfer is taking over all over.
#37
Old 10-30-2015, 06:06 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PatrickLondon View Post
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Board_o...enue_v_Haddock

By the way, how long do you expect to go on using cheques? Electronic transfer is taking over all over.
Not all over. I still have a regular need for checks (50+ per year).
#38
Old 10-30-2015, 06:20 PM
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FWIW, when I was a lad I worked in a store across the street from a "gated community" of rich folks and one guy used to come in and buy stuff and hand write checks on whatever scrap paper was handy. They were drawn on a local bank and he was well known to them and local merchants (and he maintained a 7 figure balance in his checking account) so there was never a problem cashing them.
#39
Old 10-30-2015, 07:00 PM
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These days, someone writes me a check, I take a picture of both sides with my phone and then throw the check away. My bank accepts it instantly. Doesn't seem very secure but apparently most banks allow this now. As long as the numbers on the bottom are recognizable by the computer at the bank, basically anything will work.

Last edited by Habeed; 10-30-2015 at 07:00 PM.
#40
Old 11-01-2015, 12:55 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PatrickLondon View Post
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Board_o...enue_v_Haddock

By the way, how long do you expect to go on using cheques? Electronic transfer is taking over all over.
I have a client that still prints their own cheques. They could use electronic transfer, but they find that cheques often take weeks, sometimes months, before they are presented, which they regard as a /good thing/
#41
Old 11-01-2015, 04:54 PM
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Zombies are easy to trick. You don't even have to sign the check with those guys - just don't hand it directly to them... I don't think they know it's not Halloween anymore.
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