HIDDEN SECURITY FEATURES ON CHECKS

Banks use security features to deter fraud. The features vary with each bank. But here are examples of some of the commonly used features:

• You can usually find the padlock icon on the front and back. This signifies that the security features comply with industry standards.

• The letters MP indicate that the check contains Microprint. Where do you think the microprint is? The signature line is a common microprint line. It looks like a line, but when you magnify it, you’ll see it’s actually made up of superfine letters. This makes counterfeiting harder because microprint is practically impossible to reprint. In fact, if you were to try photocopy it, the line would just appear as small dots, not letters.

• You probably noticed this line has different symbols and a particular font. This is Magnetic Ink Character Recognition Line (MICR Line). Special readers can read magnetic ink, even if the line was covered by a signature or other markings.

Do you see these special symbols? These symbols are separators that tell the reader what each set of digits is. For example, this is the “Transit” symbol. This symbol always surrounds the bank’s routing number. The second symbol identifies your checking account number. The third set of numbers corresponds with your check number.

• Many checks are printed on chemically-sensitive paper. The paper reacts to chemical changes and produces a stain or spot.

• Many banks use a unique background pattern. If someone tries to photocopy a check, the colors in the copied version will appear distorted.

• Let’s examine the back of the check. The check should have the words “Original Document” on the back. Some banks use a security weave pattern that is made up of the words “Original Document”.

• The security features are always listed on the back of every check. Some checks come with higher security features.

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