Guidelines For Handling Checks

If you want to protect yourself from losses due to bad checks, there are certain "rules" you must follow that can have a big impact on your success. Many of the most important rules apply at the moment you accept the check for payment. State statutes, local requirements and simple practicality also influence what can or cannot be done to recover a loss from a bad check. There are some steps you should always take when accepting a check. We've developed a simple acronym to help people remember the steps.

  S  Double Check the Signature. Watch the person sign the check. Pre-signed checks are often trouble. Compare the signature against a photo ID that contains the person's signature. A Driver's License is best - and record the Driver's License number. Student ID numbers and Military ID are also good identifiers that you should get if possible.
  A  Compare the Amounts. If the amount written in numbers and the amount written in words don't match, the bank won't accept it. Carefully read both versions of the amount. If they don't match, don't accept the check.
  N   Check Number. It's a fact that most bad checks are written on new accounts. Be especially aware of checks that seem to be on a new account (i.e. numbers in the "low 100's" or "low 1000's").
  D  Today's Date. Post-dated checks do not qualify for this Program. Make sure the date on the check matches the date you accept it.
  I Complete ID. It is important that you get as much identification as possible. At a minimum you MUST get the following:
  • Name
  • Address (a street address is best)
  • City - State - Zip
  • Phone Number
  • Drivers License, Military, or Student Number
  • Look at the ID photo - is this the person presenting the check?

Other Common Sense Tips

  1. If in doubt, call the bank and verify that the check is good before accepting it.
  2. Be doubly cautious on weekends and holidays.
  3. Do not permit yourself to become flustered by a shopper who is in a rush. Be courteous, but be careful. Weigh the possible loss against the potential gain.
  4. Legibly record all ID information on front of check. Use the "cross" method:

Drivers License # Work Address & Phone
Clerks Initials Other ID or Manager's OK

The Importance Of Verified Information

Being able to actually identify a check writer can be critical in prosecuting a bad check case. If a check case ends up in court, the person who accepts the check must be able to identify the check writer. 

This requires some measure of proof. Reasonable proof can be:

  • The person accepting the check verified identity using Photo ID
  • The person accepting the check personally knows the check writer.

 The person who accepts the check MUST be noted and their initials or employee number put on the check.  

For more detailed information, please see the brochure entitled
Guidelines for Handling Checks.