Check Printing in a Work-From-Home Environment: What Do I Need?

Author: Source Technologies

Without a doubt, COVID has thrown everyone off and shaken up the business world across every industry. People who never saw themselves working from home were expected to do just that—without hardly missing a beat or causing a disaster with a security breach. Even printing checks at home became a necessary process for some employees.

If you want to have the freedom to print your business checks at home, you may be asking “Is MICR ink required to print checks?” or “Are there MICR check printing requirements?” You may not know about the legality of check printing at home.

Changes brought on by COVID-19 pandemic may be sticking around longer than many first thought. With multiple waves, staying home is one way for high-risk employees to avoid unnecessary contact. Some employees also found they were more productive and less stressed once they got into at-home routines.

This could mean employees will be permanently required to print checks at home. And, if you are trying to figure out what hardware and security software you need to succeed at printing checks, this blog is here to help.

What is MICR?

MICR stands for magnetic ink character recognition.

MICR is used to reduce check fraud by using a special toner to print the check number, account number and routing number at the bottom of the check. Using MICR toner is required by the Federal Reserve to make processing easier. You will need an MICR laser printer if you want to create your checks at home.

Some companies choose to purchase pre-printed checks with the MICR bar along the bottom already filled out to avoid purchasing MICR ink printers. However, this can cause complications that will seriously limit your ability to make changes. On-demand check printing makes it possible for businesses to make quick and agile changes. In order to offer on-demand printing capabilities, you need to have quality MICR ink on hand.

How can Payroll Print Checks at Home?

There are a lot of different kinds of checks you may want to print from home, including everything from rebate checks, money orders and general disbursements to cutting payroll checks. Here is what you will need to successfully print official checks from home.

Laser Printer

First and foremost, you are going to need a printer. Most of the check can be printed with any printer and any ink. However, as we will discuss in the next section, some printers are more secure to help protect your check printing process.

If you choose to go the route of using a check printing company to pre-print the MICR code, you can just use a laser printer to add the payee, amount, date and memos to your checks.  However, this is a risky way to handle the check printing process.

MICR Check Printer

We’ve already discussed why MICR ink is important. A MICR toner printer takes this to another level, connecting an anti-fraud security printer to your home network. Not only is a special ink used, but a special MICR font that is readable by humans as well as the special computers that will process the checks later. 

A special MICR printer is going to print a quality MICR line and integrate easily with top accounting and banking software solutions. The MICR check printer can offer secure fonts, password protection, quality guarantees, special jam recovery settings for check printing and more. Tray locking can also be used to keep check paper securely stored within the printer, avoiding waste or fraud.

Check Paper and Toner Cartridges

Maintaining inventory is a crucial part of printing checks. You will have to ensure all blank checks and toner are well-stocked in a secure location. These items should not be accessible by other family members or people in the home. A locking file cabinet drawer or cupboard may be used to store extra cartridges and reams.

Check Printing Software

Secure cloud-based software makes it easy to access and print checks from home without risking security breaches. This might also enable you to provide secure electronic payments to reduce the amount of printed checks you need to produce. Software specifically designed for printing checks will enable:

  • Complex form and document printing control
  • Bidirectional printing capabilities
  • Digital signatures
  • Security and audit features

Secure Network

Conduct a review of your home network’s security to make sure it meets the expectations of your IT team. Home networks aren’t always the most secure option. Printer loopholes are one way hackers are able to worm their way into a home or company network. A secure and reliable firewall should be used for at-home computers, especially if they are used for work purposes.

Typically, a standard OS is going to come with a firewall and it should be active at all times. However, you may need a specialized firewall for more advanced protection if you are dealing with valuable data for printing checks.

Always keep your computer and printer fully updated so that all security holes are patched as soon as they are caught. The latest versions of firmware will help you avoid commonly known security breach issues.

Restricted Access

Your printer shouldn’t be available to just anyone in your home or office space. Establish restricted access to keep your printer from anyone else living in the home. Make sure the printer isn’t even accidentally used to print homework or a return printing slip unless it’s approved by your work and through the correct channels. A boss or auditing authorities may not be understanding if unauthorized use occurs, especially if they are looking into a fraudulent check printing mishap. 

It’s better to be safe than sorry, even if you feel sure your family or roommates wouldn’t take advantage of the situation. Most workplaces will have policies in place to prevent unexpected situations from occurring. 

Monitoring/Auditing Capabilities

Whoever has check printing capabilities in their home should be responsible enough to property print the checks. While you want to only give this role to a trustworthy employee, you should also have a series of checks in place to ensure the process is beyond reproach. Not only will this ensure the check printing is always done above board, it will also offer security if something goes wrong and the employee needs to show they are not at fault.

All payments should be monitored or tracked, especially if you have multiple printing and working locations. Put clear guidelines in place from the very start so your employees understand what is expected and don’t feel as if their integrity is being questioned.

Training and Employee Education

Before assigning an employee to print from home, you should establish what the requirements are going to be for that process. The employee should go into the job ready to make the changes needed to fulfill the requirements of the print-at-home role.

Part of the monitoring and auditing process is going to depend on the employee being well-versed in what it takes to securely print checks from home. It isn’t fair to the employee if you hold best practice expectations without clearly communicating them.

While a formal education or course may not be needed, the supervisor should go over all expectations with the employee planning to take on the job. Going through the printing process, guidelines and monitoring procedures will help the employee know what is expected and do their job successfully.

Digitized and Encrypted Signatures and Logos

Rather than needing to coordinate with the right exec for signatures, you can have encrypted and digitized signatures ready to apply to your checks as you print them. Some specialized MICR printers or software will allow you to store those signatures and logos securely so they can be applied to your checks without being a security risk.

Backup Plan

Things can go wrong or change course at any time. If you are supplying your team with the ability to print at home, you can prepare for a disaster. It’s recommended to have 2-3 ways to print your checks, just in case something goes wrong at the normal site. You could even have different employees take turns printing to ensure the ink stays good and the printer is in good working order.

It's always smart to have everything backed up and available to your printers via the cloud. You don’t want to lose much time if something goes wrong, since a lack of timely checks can cause an understandable stir.

How to Establish Secure Check Printing at Home

Without the right setup, your employees printing checks out of their homes could pose a serious cyber risk to your business. There has been a noticeable increase in cyberattacks on every level and throughout every industry since the start of COVID-19.

Work with Source Technologies to find the right secure MICR check printing solutions for your needs. Our team is happy to work with your IT department to ensure we hit all the security measures you need to meet industry protocol and regulatory expectations.

We are well-versed in multiple industries, including:

  • Banks and financial services 
  • Retail stores 
  • Fortune 2000 
  • Government 
  • Municipalities 
  • Insurance and law firms 

Contact Source Technologies today to get the ball rolling. We can talk you through our available MICR printers, software, cloud-based solutions, check printing supplies and more. Our secure technology will provide you with the resources you need to get the job done from the comfort of your home. Our experienced team will go the extra mile to help. Book your discovery call now!