Printed Laser Checks
Laser check printing is a rapidly growing technology being used by more businesses daily. It is a cost effective measure that, when used carefully, can provide an extra measure of fraud prevention. Printed laser checks look very professional and are easy to set up on most computers, but selection of processing software is an important consideration. The future may hold strictly electronic processing, but in the present, paper checks are still the preferred method for most businesses, and usage is predicted to continue and expand.
While laser printing may be marginally more cost-effective than preprinted checks, some safeguards should be implemented to avoid fraud. Most accounting software boasts networking compatibility, but isolation is far more advisable. The information contained in accounting software is sensitive and could potentially ruin a business if it were to become public, so it does not make sense to allow access by unauthorized users by sharing across a network or an intranet. The accounting software should have an encrypted password protection in place to prevent casual access, and an automatic logoff feature to prevent access in the case an authorized person forgets to log off.
The Computer Laser Checks printer should also be isolated. In addition to preventing unauthorized access, isolating the printer will reduce waste of special MICR toner for printing documents other than checks. Fresh MICR ink can be lifted from the surface of check paper using cellophane (like Scotch) tape and applied to another blank check, creating an indistinguishable – and cashable – forged check. Isolating the printer helps prevent inappropriate access to the finished printed laser checks. Since it is very difficult to catch and prosecute this type of fraud, preventative measures are wise.
Backup copy protocols should also be considered. If a check copy is stored, it can be reprinted. A purge of backup copies should be scheduled regularly.
One of the advantages to printed laser checks is that checks can be printed on separate accounts with the right software. Some companies have many different bank accounts, and it's easy to make a mistake when using preprinted checks.
Vendor selection is the key to selecting the right package. Components must be compatible all the way from software to MICR ink. The computer, the software, the printer, the paper, and the MICR toner must all work together to produce checks.
MICR printer ink has magnetic characteristics necessary for bank processing. MICR font must also be used for both visual and magnetic accuracy. MICR are the characters at the bottom of every check that encode the routing number, account number, and check number for use by the bank's equipment. Without this proper coding, each check would have to be processed by hand – a very expensive proposition.
When running a laser printing program, ongoing quality control is an important verification. A visual inspection to be sure that every line of the check is in its proper place should be performed in the beginning of the check run, during the process, and also at the end to insure that every check is properly printed. Alignment and positioning can be verified by using an MICR template.
Buying printed laser checks can save time, money, and inconvenience. But proper procedures must be established to avoid fraud at every level of the process. No one would leave a bank envelope stuffed with cash out in the open and, by the same reasoning, customer and banking information demand an equal measure of protection.