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  • Check 21 and Printing QuickBooks Checks

    We’ve had a lot of people ask us about Check 21 (officially known as The Check Clearing for the 21st Century Act).  What is it?  Is it secure?  Do I still have to print with MICR toner?  Will PrintBoss help me manage this confusing legislation while printing my QuickBooks checks?

    So what is Check 21?  Check 21 is a federal law designed to enable banks to handle check payments electronically.  The idea behind the law is to make check processing faster and more efficient.  Before Check 21 was enacted in 2004, the bank where a check was deposited had to physically transfer the check or checks to the bank that would pay them.  Now with the Check 21 legislation, banks can take a picture of the front and back of a check and send it, along with the associated payment information, electronically to the bank that will pay it.  If either bank requires a physical copy of the check, a “substitute check” can be printed from the pictures taken.  This saves the banks and us the expense of transporting the checks between banks, as well as the associated time.  This also allows for you to receive back your check with your bank statements.  Check 21 stipulates that any agreement between a bank and its client must continue to be upheld.  By law, banks can return either a substitute check or the original check to you, but this is typically agreed upon between you and your bank which will be returned.

    What about security?  Electronic payment transfer has been around a lot longer than Check 21 has.  All payment information sent between banks is processed via secure technology that has been tested and proven secure.  Print your QuickBooks checks with no fear.

    Do I still need to use MICR toner?  Although few institutions, including banks, still use Magnetic Ink Character Recognition to process checks (desk top MICR readers used by paycheck cashing services are among the remaining dinosaurs), Check 21 still stipulates that magnetic ink is to be used for the MICR line.  This is where PrintBoss helps you print QuickBooks checks in accordance with Check 21.  PrintBoss will print your MICR line accurately and in accordance with Check 21 (just make sure a MICR toner cartridge is loaded in your printer) onto blank check stock every time with no extra clicks.  It can provide positive pay files as well, among a number of other security features.  Click here to learn more about PrintBoss and its features.

    To visit the official Check 21 Federal Reserve FAQs webpage, click here.

  • MICR Check Printing: The Debate Continues

    People often say to me, “Stu, I was perusing your wonderful website the other day, as I often do for pleasure,” (I know it’s that user-friendly, informative, and fun), “and I saw that you guys still sell MICR toner.  What’s the deal with that?  Isn’t that a little anachronistic, like selling lead-based paint or mullet haircuts?”

    Firstly, when did the mullet go out of style?  Secondly, I understand the confusion, so let me explain.

    MICR is an acronym for Magnetic Ink Character Recognition. The salient points to MICR check printing are:  First , special (magnetic) toner may be used to print the line of bank numbers on the bottom of the checks. Second, a special font is used to print those same bank numbers. In the 1950s when the American Banking Association (ABA) defined the rules & regulations for check printing, they wrote that MICR was required. It made sense – banks could process checks at a rapid pace with the automation of the MICR readers.

    But then in 2003, Congress passed The Check Clearing for the 21st Century Act.  “Check 21” allows the receiving bank of the original check to make a digital copy to be sent to the originating bank and the originating bank prints a hard copy of the digital copy which is used thereafter as the legal document (called a substitute check).  This is known as check truncation.  I won’t bore you with further details (although if you would like to hear more, give me a call.  Check payment history is a personal hobby of mine), but in essence checks could now be passed electronically.  So what does that mean for the MICR check printing?  It means that banks are now reading the information on checks optically rather than magnetically. However, there are a few institutions such as paycheck cashing services that may still use the older magnetic readers.  Some folks like to use the MICR toner for the convenience of these institutions. The PrintBoss software will ensure your MICR line (with or without the MICR toner) will print in the correct font and placement every time with no extra steps, hardware, or installation.

    To print good QuickBooks checks every time, just click print and let PrintBoss handle the rest.

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