Jumat, 02 Desember 2011

Types of Magnetic Ink in a Character Reader

Magnetic ink and MICR help keep your checking account safe.

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Magnetic Ink Character Readers (MICR) are tools for banks to process checks and other financial documents automatically. Banks, credit unions and other institutions print financial documents such as checks and money orders using magnetically chargeable ink or toner that an MICR can identify. This makes it easier to process large quantities of checks, and also to detect when the numbers are altered.

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The stylized numbers printed on the bottom of your checks date back to 1958, when the American Banking Association (ABA) adopted the original E-138 MICR system. The American National Standards Institutes sets the standards for the MICR font, the placement of the characters and other details. The MICR line must be printed correctly so that MICR readers can scan them for information, such as your account number and the financial institution holding the account.


The Federal Reserve and the ABA both require that banks use magnetic ink to print the bottom line on their checks. Optical scanners recognize and translate the MICR font; magnetic scanners react to the ink, even if the numbers are stained or marked over. Banks, credit unions and businesses that print up their own checks can program MICR printers so that if there's no magnetic toner in the cartridge, it won't print at all.


A number of companies, including Troy Group, CheckWriter and VersaCheck, market different brands of magnetic ink and toner. Cartridges are available for most brands of MICR-compatible printers, including both laser-printers and inkjets. The inks have to meet the ABA magnetic standard, and as a practical matter, they have to be durable enough to go through magnetic readers without losing any information. Some inks included added chemicals, such as substances that stain the check if anyone alters MICR markings chemically.


If you print up your own checks for business or your personal use, use magnetic ink for the MICR line of the check. For the rest of it -- the date, the payee name, the lines for writing on -- use ordinary non-magnetic ink. As you're not a bank, the ABA rules don't mandate that you use magnetic ink, but doing so reduces the risk of fraud. Checks also pass through the system faster if the bank can use a magnetic reader.

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