MICR Printing Info - How MICR Printing Works

Q: What is MICR?

MICR is an acronym for Magnetic Ink Character Recognition; it refers to the specialized toner used to print the font at the bottom of checks and other negotiable documents.

Q: Why is it important to print with MICR toner?

The Federal Reserve and all banks require that checks be printed with MICR toner for ease of processing. As a check travels through the check clearing system, it passes through reader-sorters which send a magnetic charge to the check, allowing the machine to read the information contained within the MICR line. If a check or other negotiable document is printed with regular non-MICR toner, the reader/sorter will reject the check, resulting in a bank fee for the company that printed the document.

Q: How do secure MICR printers and OEM MICR toner save my company money?

A complete MICR printing solution utilizing Source Technologies secure MICR printers and MICR toner can virtually eliminate the expenses associated with purchasing, storing, distributing and tracking pre-printed check stock. A laser MICR printer solution utilizes blank check stock, offering immediate, significant savings on paper costs alone.

For every $100 spent on pre-printed check stock, an organization wastes approximately $15 and spends an additional $18 to distribute documents once printed. So that $100 worth of check stock really costs $133.

The same amount of BLANK check stock will cost just $22 with no waste and approximately $2 in distribution, for a savings of 82% on check stock.

Check Stock (per case) Pre-Printed Blank

Form Acquisition Cost

$100.00 $22.00
Waste $15.00 -
Inventory / Distribution $18.00 $1.98

Total

$133.00 $23.98
% Reduction   82%

In addition, secure MICR printer solutions from Source Technologies virtually eradicate the risk of official check fraud – and its associated $17,100 loss per successful attempt - as well as alleviate costs associated with maintenance on outdated equipment such as dot matrix printers. Our secure MICR printing solutions significantly reduce voids, missing checks and paid-unadvised charges.

Q: Does Source Technologies manufacture the printer?

Source Technologies has an exclusive partnership with Lexmark International to provide the MICR solution. Through this partnership, Source Technologies’ MICR technology is integrated into Lexmark’s standard laser printers, creating the MICR solution.

Q: What is the difference between a Source Technologies’ secure MICR printer and a standard Lexmark printer?

The main differences between the two versions of printers is the inclusion of the OEM MICR toner cartridge, imager and Source Technologies’ MICR security features. Engineering teams from both companies work closely together on product development:

  • MICR printer engineering, testing and certification
  • MICR toner formulation, testing and certification
  • MICR security feature development and integration

Q: Can I use my standard printer and replace the toner with MICR toner?

No. By ensuring that our MICR toner cartridges are being used only in a quality Source Technologies branded MICR solution, our customers are assured that they will avoid these problems:

  • Bank rejection of checks (due to unreadable MICR lines) and fees associated with these rejects
  • Premature failure of printer components caused by abrasive toner formulations and/or toner leakage

Q: Can I use remanufactured toner in a Source Technologies MICR printer?

No. Using a remanufactured or “drop-in” toner solution can cause premature failure of the fuser and other costly printer components and inferior MICR print quality. The use of re-manufactured toner automatically voids our MICR guarantee and the warranty on the printer itself.

Q: What is the difference between Source Technologies MICR toner and remanufactured MICR toner?

A remanufactured MICR toner cartridge starts as a regular toner cartridge which is emptied, disassembled, cleaned, reassembled and refilled with MICR toner. This toner is not held to the same quality standards as originally manufactured toner and this can lead to poor reliability, printer damage, bank reject fees and other additional costs.

Source Technologies offers only originally manufactured MICR toner cartridges, supported by a MICR Guarantee that ensures the quality of the documents printed when used with our MICR printers. This guarantee cannot be found with remanufactured MICR toner. In addition, Source Technologies toner cartridges typically offer twice the yield of remanufactured MICR toner cartridges, and a significantly lower cost-per-page, which is the true measure of a consumable cost.

Q: What about recycled cartridges?

MICR toner contains iron oxide which over time can eat away at toner cartridge components. If a cartridge is recycled, and the proper parts are not replaced, you run the risk of printer damage and print quality problems. Unfortunately most vendors use inferior toner formulations and poor quality cartridges that could damage your printer and the quality of your MICR documents.

  • We do not recommend using recycled MICR toner cartridges and suggest you ask your supplier these questions:
  • What check reader/sorters have you used to verify the MICR toner?
  • What are the expected character signal strengths throughout the life of the toner?
  • What cartridge components, if any, did you replace while recycling?

Q: Does it matter what check stock I use?

Yes. A poor quality paper interferes with the adhesion of toner and can lead to lower quality MICR documents.

The following are paper guidelines we recommend to our customers:

  • 24 lb. bond paper with a taber M.D. 2.5 and C.D. 1.1 minimum
  • Rougher surfaces within the base printers' specifications for best toner fusing
  • Left to right grain direction
  • Micro-Perf (20 or more cuts per inch) perforations
  • A moisture content between 4.7% and 5.5%
  • Paper-based security features such as void pantographs and laid lines

Q: How big a problem is check fraud?

From the 2013 AFP Payments Fraud and Control Survey:

Payments fraud, both actual and attempted, were experienced by 61% of surveyed organizations. Of those organizations, 87% reported that checks were targeted. Payments fraud represents a $20 billion per year problem

Q: How can I reduce the risk of fraud by using MICR toner and secure MICR printers?

The best way to deter check fraud is through a combination of efforts, including  quality blank check stock and secure fonts used, employee education, positive pay and a secure MICR printer solution. Blank check stock is useless to criminals, unlike pre-printed checks which can easily be manipulated and used. Source Technologies' MICR printers offer unparalleled security features to prevent unauthorized printing or reproduction of checks. With Source Technologies’ solution, the printer hardware, check stock, fonts and data stream are secured.

Q: Where can I learn more about MICR?

You trust technology to help you run your business every day. Your check-printing solution should really be this good. Source Technologies provides the most comprehensive secure print technology delivered in a broad family of printers and accessories, plus custom-engineered consumables for specialized applications.

More information on MICR can be found:

  • American Bankers Association: www.aba.com conferences, banking industry issues
  • Bank Administrative Institute: www.bai.org, conferences, publications
  • American National Standards Institute www.ansi.org
  • X9: www.x9.org Accredited by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), X9 develops and publishes voluntary, consensus technical standards for the financial services industry.
  • NSSN: A National Resource for Global Standards, recent ANSI documents can be purchased from the NSSN web site.

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