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Don't write personal checks

Most of the information on a check would not pass the 'Internet safety test.'

By Karen Datko Dec 1, 2009 10:29AM

This post comes from Jim Wang at partner blog Bargaineering.


Recently, The Consumerist mentioned a story that said fewer retailers are accepting personal checks this holiday season. They cited check fraud as the big reason for not accepting checks.


I argue that check fraud is the big reason why many consumers should not write checks: The personal check is one of the most insecure methods of payment. 

Consider this test, which I call the Internet safety test. If you took an image of a completely filled-out check, how much of it would you have to black out before you’d feel comfortable posting it on the Internet?

I’d have to black out the following:

  • My name.
  • My address.
  • My bank’s ABA routing number.
  • My bank account number.
  • My check number.
  • My signature.

Once you black out those six items, all that remain are the payee, the amount, and the picture of Winnie the Pooh with his head in the honey pot.


When you hand over that check to the cashier, you lose control over almost everything a thief needs to socially engineer your money away from an unsuspecting teller.


If you were considering a check, get a debit card from your bank and use that instead. At least with debit and credit cards, you get consumer protection and limited fraud liability.


Don’t use checks unless you absolutely have no other choice.


Related reading at Bargaineering:

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