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Verifying Checks and Drafts,

Avoiding fraud when accepting payment by bank note

Call the bank and verify the account and funds. Do not use the phone number from the check. Call 411 to get the bank phone number from the bank name. After you contact the bank, explain what you need and get the name of the bank employee who is helping you verify the note. Have them review with you all the security features and watermarks of the check to determine if it's real. Be aware that if you cash the check and it turns out to have been fradulant, you just passed a bad check. You may need to provide proof of the identity of the person who gave you the check.

If you are accepting a Bank Draft or Casher's Check please note that these do NOT clear next day. The bank must make funds available the next day, but they can take up to two weeks to actually clear. If they fail to clear, the funds will be removed from your account by the bank at that time. Most cashiers checks will have a perforated edge not a smooth one as they are torn out of a book. If possible, ask the buyer to meet you at the bank that issued the cashier's check and close the deal there. Ask the buyer to cash the check and then you deposit the cash at your bank. Call the bank and ask for a record of that check being issued. Do not use the phone number on the check. Call 411.

Bank routing numbers identify the financial institution where the funds to be transfered by the check are held. They are printed on the MICR line in the transit field.

The transit number may appear on the left side or in the middle, but it will always be between the two transit routing symbols () and it will always have nine digits. The first four digits correspond to the Federal Reserve district where the financial institution on which the check is drawn is located. The next four numbers will be the unique number assigned to the financial institution. The final digit is derived from an algorithmic calculation.

The first two numbers indicate the Federal Reserve district, the second two indicate which Federal Reserve branch area the institution is in. Thus, 01 identifies the First Federal Reserve District (Boston), and l2 identifies the Twelfth District (San Francisco). It is important to note that adding 2 to the first digit denotes a thrift institution. Thus, 21 identifies a thrift in the First District (i.e., 01 plus a 2 added to the first digital to give 21,) and 32 denotes a thrift in the Twelfth District (i.e., start with the district number 12 and add a 2 to the first digit.) It is important that these digits be compared to the location of the bank because a forger will sometimes change the routing number on the check to an incorrect Federal Reserve Bank to buy more time. For a list of the relevant numbers, see Title 12: Regulation CC, Appendix A. (cached)

Take a close look at any check you are given for deposit or cashing. Is the transit/routing number a proper one with the correct number of digits? There are 12 Federal Reserve districts. That means that there is a limited range of numbers that should appear in the first two digits of the routing number: 01-12 or, with a 2 added to the first digit, 21-32. Compare the Federal Reserve district that the number indicates the bank is located in with the actual name and address of the bank that appears on the check. If the routing number begins with 10, for example, that would relate to a bank within the 10th district, which includes such states as Oklahoma and Kansas. If the check lists a bank located in California, the 12th district, there is an inconsistency. This is often the hallmark of a counterfeit check. Your red alert flags should go up at this point and you should investigate further.

Perform the same analysis on the next two digits, those that represent the Federal Reserve branch area the institution is in. Next, turn to the second four digits in the routing number. Again, look for any inconsistencies that may indicate fraud.Those are the ones which identify the financial institution the check is drawn on.

Accuity Solutions (a division of SourceMedia), as the official registrar for ABA's bank routing and transit numbers, publishes the ABA Key to Routing Numbers. When in doubt about the authenticity of a check, consult the book to determine whether the routing number matches the bank name.

Now, check out the fraction in the upper right hand corner of the check (one number above another number.) The bottom number should again reflect the Federal Reserve district information, so it should match the first four digits of the routing number. If, however, the pertinent Federal Reserve district is the First District through the Ninth District -- single digit districts -- the number will have a "0" in front of it.. The top part of the fraction shows the state the drawee bank is located in and the bank number. The state code is a two-digit number; the remaining four digits are the bank's identifying numbers. You should note that if the bank's identifying number ends in "0" the final digit may be omitted.

Match the number in the denominator of the fraction with the Federal Reserve information in the first four digits of the transit number. Note which state the first two digits of the numerator would indicate the check is drawn on and see if that matches other information on the check. See if the bank's identifying number in the remaining digits of the numerator match the bank's identifying number in the second four digits of the transit number in the MICR line. Unfortunately, not all checks contain these fractions.

file: /Techref/ecommerce/routfraud.htm, 7KB, , updated: 2007/2/20 20:09, local time: 2022/8/10 21:42,

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