Skip to Content
Police Department

Steps To Follow When Accepting Checks

Be cautious of new checking accounts

Of all the insufficient, "hot" checks, 90% are drawn on accounts less than a year old. The consecutive numbers in the right hand corner begin with 101 and you should be especially careful when taking low number checks. Because knowing the age of the account is important, some banks now print a date code of when the account was opened (for example, 0278 means February, 1978).

Place all information on front of check

At a minimum,

  1. Driver's license number
  2. Clerks initials
  3. Other ID (if needed)
  4. Managers approval (if needed)

Examine driver license carefully

After you have the license out of the customer's wallet and in your hand, quickly ask yourself the following questions: Is this the same person in the photo that is in front of me? Are the addresses on the check and the license the same? When does the license expire? More than 60% of forged checks cashed last year were cashed with and expired drivers license. Legally licenses are worthless for identification as soon as they expire. Be sure to examine the drivers license carefully.

Other negotiable instrument codes

On drafts issued by savings and loan institutions and mutual savings banks, magnetic bank routing numbers may start with the digit 2 or 3. Credit union drafts are honored by the bank on which they are drawn. International traveler's checks have routing numbers starting with 8000. U. S. Government checks contain the routing number 000000518.

Traveler's check identification

  • Visa - When held above eye level, a dove appears on the left side in the white area. Old Format - When held above eye level, a globe of the world appears on the front left and a dove in the upper right.
  • Master Card and Thomas Cook - When held above eye level, on the right side of the check in a circle, a Greek goddess will appear.
  • Citicorp - When held above eye level, a Greek god's face will appear on the right.
  • American Express - Turn check over. Moisten your finger tip and run it over the left denomination. If it smears, it is good. Right side will not smear.

Be impressed with the check, not the person

Don't let a customer's appearance lull you into ignoring any of these steps. A retired master forger once cashed a $50.00 check written on a cocktail napkin, before a hidden camera for television, because the bank teller was more impressed by his appearance than the item he presented. When you are in a hurry, or want to make an exception, think how you will defend your decision if the check is returned. Then, only the check will matter, not the circumstances in which you took it.


You'll be able to feel perforations on at least one edge of all legitimate checks, except government checks, checks printed on computer stock, counter checks, and temporary checks. Perforation equipment is expensive and bulky, so most forgers use a regular paper cutter - leaving all sides smooth.

Magnetic numbers

The special magnetic ink required for automated check sorting is extremely flat and dull. If you spot shine, or reflected light, off these numbers when you tilt the check under normal lighting, it is probably a forgery. This ink is expensive, and restricted, so the forger will usually not go to the trouble to obtain it.

Color copied checks

Magnetic routing numbers at the bottom of the check will be raised off the surface - almost like Braille - because of the dull ink's effect on the reflective light duplicating process. The numbers on the copy will be shiny instead of dull. Also, because the color is created by a chemical process rather than by ink. The moisture from your hands will often cause them to smear an opposite color.