With the exception of government checks, checks printed on computer card stock, counter checks, and temporary checks, you should be able to feel perforations on at least one edge of all legitimate checks.
There is a nine-digit number at the bottom-left end of the magnetic ink character recognition (MICR) line (the numbers printed in magnetic ink near the bottom of the front of the check). This is the routing code for the bank on which the check is drawn. The first two numbers indicate in which of the 12 Federal Reserve districts the bank is located. It is important that you compare this to the location of the bank, because a forger will sometimes change these in order to buy more float time while the check is routed to an incorrect Reserve bank. The number should also agree with the routing fraction printed in the upper right corner of the check. See the table below for Federal Reserve district codes.
The special magnetic ink used in the MICR line on the bottom of the check should appear flat and dull. If you see shine or light reflected off these numbers when you tilt the check under normal lighting, it is probably a forgery. These numbers should also be raised off the surface, almost like braille. On a forgery, you should not be able to feel the numbers. The numbers on a forgery will often smear in an opposite color when rubbed with moist fingers.
Be cautious of new checking accounts. Ninety percent of all forged checks are drawn on accounts that are less than one year old. You can tell a new account by the check numbers. New checking accounts usually start with the number 101.
|District Number||District Locations|
|01||Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Vermont, Rhode Island|
|02||New York, New Jersey, Connecticut|
|03||Pennsylvania, Delaware, New Jersey|
|04||Ohio, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, West Virginia|
|05||Virginia, Maryland, N. Carolina, S. Carolina, Washington, D.C., West Virginia|
|06||Georgia, Alabama, Florida, Tennessee, Louisiana, Mississippi|
|07||Illinois, Michigan, Indiana, Iowa, Wisconsin|
|08||Missouri, Arkansas, Kentucky, Tennessee, Indiana, Illinois, Mississippi|
|09||Minnesota, Montant, N. Dakota, S. Dakota, Wisconsin, Michigan|
|10||Missouri, Colorado, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Iowa, Wyoming, Kansas, New Mexico|
|11||Texas, Arizona, New Mexico, Louisiana|
|12||California, Oregon, Washington, Utah, Hawaii, Alaska, Idaho, Nevada, Arizona|
Each traveler's check issuer has specific, unique security features.
|Check Issuer||Security Feature|
|Visa||When held above eye level, a globe of the world appears on the front left and a dove in the upper-right corner.|
|MasterCard and Travelex||When held above eye level, a Greek goddess will appear in a circle on the right side of the check.|
|CitiCorp||When held above eye level, a Greek god’s face will appear on the right.|
|Bank of America||When held above eye level, a Greek god’s face will appear on the right.|
|American Express||Turn the check over, moisten your finger tip and run it over the left denomination. If it smears it is good; the right side will not smear.|