Checkbook Security

We just got a check from my mother-in-law, and guess what? She has her driver’s license printed right there at the top of her check, alongside her name and address. I can’t even begin to express how bad an idea this is. I guess it’s a good bit better than including her social security numebr, but still… Your checks already list the name of your bank, their ABA routing number, and your account number. As far as I’m concerned, that’s a scary amount of information to be handing out every time you write a check. So why would you ever want to provide would-be identity thieves with even more information than that? That’s right, you wouldn’t. So next time you order checks, make sure you don’t have anything more than your name and address printed on them.

6 Responses to “Checkbook Security”

  1. Anonymous

    How can you stop people from putting your driver’s license number on a check? It’s that or they won’t accept payment by check.

    I believe it’s against the law in some states to demand a credit card as check-cashing ID. When a clerk asks for a credit card, I just say I don’t have a card with me.

    I put a fake telephone number on my checks, but hadn’t thought of having initials instead full name printed. Good idea!

    If you can print a phony telephone number on checks, what’s to stop you from printing a fake driver’s license number? A merchant isn’t a court of law–there’s no legislation that says the data on a check has to be truthful, as long as you sign your own name on a check drawn on an account in your own name. Personally, I am so sick of people demanding information that’s none of their business, I just make up answers, with no ill effect.

    After a Visa card theft that was obviously an inside job (I had written a letter to Visa’s customer service under the name I use for business, which is different from the ungainly legal name I use to sign checks; the only connection, anywhere, between the business name and my credit card number appeared on that letter…and lo! on the forged invoices!), I never, ever put my credit card account number on correspondence or on a check written to pay a credit card bill.

  2. Anonymous

    As Jess has pointed out, don’t put anything on your checks that isn’t absolutely necessary. If you want to put more than your initials at least abbreviate your first name; J. Doe for example. This will prevent a potential thief from knowing your first name and determining whether you are male or female. When paying your bills only put the last four digits of your credit card number on your checks, the card company knows the rest. Also, do not put your driver’s license number or your phone number on your checks.

  3. Anonymous

    I was in the Marine Corps for 20 years. I did most of my shopping near or on base. The PX, commissary as well as any on base check acceptors required the sponsor’s SSN as well as unit designation be on the checks. So – to make things smoother and quicker, I (as did most of the military of that time) had checks preprinted with our SSNs. I’ve since learned not to do that, but I’m sure that there are lots of folks that want to save time (at the expense of security) and have their SSNs or driver’s license numbers preprinted.

  4. Anonymous

    Any retail store I go to requires my driver’s license number on the check. If it is not printed on the check then they ask for your license and then handcopy it down – a very slow process.

    So, my driver’s license is going to be on most of my checks whether I add it myself or wait even longer in line while the clerk does it.

    — Oh and to make it worse — in Washington State your birthdate is coded into your driver’s license number!

  5. Anonymous

    In Massachusetts until very recently they used your social security number as a driver’s lisense number…another Very Bad Idea. Thanks for the reminder about identity theft!

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