By Kevin Forrester | October 29, 2014
For check-printing applications such as counter checks or official items, the majority of banks in the U.S. still use pre-printed checks and a dot matrix printer, typewriter or checkwriter. The “security” surrounding these pre-printed checks usually involves storage under lock-and-key, with Tellers signing for their daily allotment. At the end of the day, unused pre-printed checks must be reconciled as part of the process of securing them, and re-stored under lock-and-key.
A secure MICR check-printing solution allows bank staff to print checks on-demand using blank check stock. There is simply no need for pre-printed checks because all the static data, variable data, logos, signatures and MICR line is printed in a single printer pass. That means there is no need to “secure” a stack of paper as is required with pre-printed checks. By deploying secure check printers, banks eliminate the need for pre-printed checks. Just by removing pre-printed checks from the process prevents check fraud because the blank stock in a secure MICR solution is “useless” until it’s printed on. This means check pilfering, forgery and check alteration using pre-printed checks is eliminated (see example image below).
In addition to eliminating the pre-printed checks, secure MICR check printers incorporate access control, so only those who are authorized to print checks have the necessary access to secure fonts, user-specific signatures and other data sources. Password Protection requires a user-entered password at the computer level while an additional Front Panel Security Lock feature means the user must also enter an 8-digit combination at the printer level before the check will print.
Set Copies to One and Auto Jam Recovery Disable are both secure printer settings that prevent multiple copies of a check from being printed, protecting customer information and preventing fraud. Five different secure fonts are included not only to meet Federal Reserve requirements, but also to make it very difficult to alter the amount field of a check due to the complexity of the font design. Finally, DES Encryption/Decryption ensures that the data stream is fully encrypted as it travels to the printer, where it is decrypted just before it’s printed.
According to AFP’s 2014 Payments Fraud Survey, a whopping 82% of participants reported that checks were the primary target for fraud attacks at their companies. Check fraud is still a big problem for banks, and physically securing pre-printed checks to combat the problem is expensive and inefficient. A secure MICR check printing solution effectively protects banks by securing not only the data, but also the check-printing process from beginning to end.
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