Author Topic: The "This Might Be A Stupid Question, But...." Thread  (Read 844552 times)

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stitchygreyanonymouse

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Re: The "This Might Be A Stupid Question, But...." Thread
« Reply #7305 on: April 02, 2013, 09:59:11 AM »
Actually, this discussion of buying vs. banks giving us checks makes my original question even more stupid, because the bank gave us that box for free, and I’m pretty sure I can order another for free any time! Now, my other bank does make me pay for checks (which I think is what made my brain wonder about buying new checks, even though I don‘t have any checks for that account), but they’re actually not nearly as bad as some—almost on par with the online/mail order places, which I have purchased from many years ago before I started paying for everything online.

To answer the questions about why we’d buy:

In the US, not all banks provide free checks. In fact, I’d dare say that most require you to purchase them, or will give you your first book free, then require that you purchase them. To purchase them, you can go through the bank: they will deduct the cost from your account and mail you however many you order; or, you can purchase them from a third party check-seller that usually has all sorts of designs and styles to choose from, often for far cheaper than the bank’s plain ones.


CakeBeret

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Re: The "This Might Be A Stupid Question, But...." Thread
« Reply #7306 on: April 02, 2013, 10:12:30 AM »
Some banks offer free checks as an account perk, others do not. If they are not free, you have to buy them from your bank online. They come in boxes of (I think) 5 books, and each book has 30 checks in it. Some places make you buy an entire box, some places will let you buy just one or two books. One book lasts me for years, since my bank has a free billpayment service that will create and mail a physical check for me if necessary.
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lady_disdain

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Re: The "This Might Be A Stupid Question, But...." Thread
« Reply #7307 on: April 02, 2013, 10:47:09 AM »
MM, then why do people talk about buying blank checks? I am confused.

I dislike the idea of using checks that did not come from my bank. That must make it harder to check that it is an authentic check, with their safety features.

I don't know about other countries but the fact that here you can write a check on any piece of paper, provided there's all the right info on it, makes me think the only safety features are "having the right numbers" and your signature.
Sure a check from your bank will go faster and smoothly.

Wow! Really? Isn't that amazingly insecure? Anyone with the right numbers could forge a check from you. But that does explain why Americans are so careful with bank account numbers.

Here, checks are issued by the bank and have several safety features to make forgery harder (holographic print in a corner, safety number with check digits, moire patterns, etc).

ladyknight1

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Re: The "This Might Be A Stupid Question, But...." Thread
« Reply #7308 on: April 02, 2013, 11:22:23 AM »
You can select checks with more advanced safety features, but I only write checks at the grocery store (processed directly in front of me) or to an organization I am involved in (sometimes can not accept debit or credit). I ordered mine online from an independent source, and saved nearly 75% over what my bank charges.

LadyJaneinMD

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Re: The "This Might Be A Stupid Question, But...." Thread
« Reply #7309 on: April 02, 2013, 01:05:43 PM »
I don't know about other countries but the fact that here you can write a check on any piece of paper, provided there's all the right info on it, makes me think the only safety features are "having the right numbers" and your signature.
Sure a check from your bank will go faster and smoothly.

Wow! Really? Isn't that amazingly insecure? Anyone with the right numbers could forge a check from you. But that does explain why Americans are so careful with bank account numbers.

It's actually a common stunt for someone to write a check on a shirt and mail that to the IRS.  (Google is my friend).  Some guy actually whitewashed a check onto the side of a cow once, to pay his taxes. 
Funny stories. 

I get free checks through my bank, but so far I write *maybe* one check a year, if that many.  All of my bills are paid through my checking account.   I love the Internet!

Luci45

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Re: The "This Might Be A Stupid Question, But...." Thread
« Reply #7310 on: April 02, 2013, 01:26:22 PM »
Some guy actually whitewashed a check onto the side of a cow once, to pay his taxes. 
Funny stories. 

That one is an urban legend from the UK. http://www.straightdope.com/columns/read/562/can-you-write-a-check-on-any-old-piece-of-paper  You have to scroll down to WHOOPS! to find that.

We used to have 'counter checks' at stores and restaurants, so we could fill in the name of the bank and location then use the checks - it happened a lot when I was in college (1963-1967) working at a pizza place, but the banks requested that we not let the students use them anymore, and of course we complied.

I was amazed when I did the research on this and found it can still be done! (My Yahoo! topic was "Can checks be written on anything?" and I got lots of hits.)

mmswm

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Re: The "This Might Be A Stupid Question, But...." Thread
« Reply #7311 on: April 02, 2013, 01:33:05 PM »
I hate checks with a passion.  Mostly this comes from having worked in deposit operations for a major bank.  The number of issues that can arise from personal checks is just insane.

Dindrane

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Re: The "This Might Be A Stupid Question, But...." Thread
« Reply #7312 on: April 02, 2013, 01:37:17 PM »
My bank charges $12 for something like 5 books (with probably 100 checks each) of their standard, bank logo checks. The only things I write checks for are paying rent and sometimes to settle up when I owe people money (like when we go in on gifts together but one person pays upfront). I have not even begun to make a dent in my original box of checks.

When I added my husband to my checking account, we ordered new checks with both our names listed so that he would be able to write them, but I've kept using my old checks. Chances are good we will move before we use up either stash, but it seems less wasteful somehow for me to keep using the ones I got originally. Since my bank still accepts them, I see no particular reason not to. I will get new checks when we move, regardless of how many we have left, because I have run into enough situations where it is helpful or required to have your address on the check match your actual address where you live.

One thing that I am kind of amused by is the fact that my bank changed their system for numbering accounts after I joined initially. So the account number that I started with (and which was printed on my checks) is not my account number any more. For whatever reason, my bank still accepts those checks that have the wrong account number, even though I know for a fact that they won't accept that account number in any other form (I had to go in and update my direct deposit at work when they made the switch, because my employer wasn't able to use the old account number to deposit my paychecks anymore).


blue2000

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Re: The "This Might Be A Stupid Question, But...." Thread
« Reply #7313 on: April 02, 2013, 01:41:25 PM »
MM, then why do people talk about buying blank checks? I am confused.

I dislike the idea of using checks that did not come from my bank. That must make it harder to check that it is an authentic check, with their safety features.

I'm in Canada and I cannot get free cheques. The bank will give you a blank cheque in an emergency, but you fill in your own info and it has no security features. You can choose the security features you want on purchased cheques. I also pay higher fees for a chequing account than I would for a savings account.

But the last time I purchased them it cost me something like $20 for 200, and I only write them for the rent, so not a big deal.
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LazyDaisy

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Re: The "This Might Be A Stupid Question, But...." Thread
« Reply #7314 on: April 02, 2013, 01:58:15 PM »
Some guy actually whitewashed a check onto the side of a cow once, to pay his taxes. 
Funny stories. 

That one is an urban legend from the UK. http://www.straightdope.com/columns/read/562/can-you-write-a-check-on-any-old-piece-of-paper  You have to scroll down to WHOOPS! to find that.

We used to have 'counter checks' at stores and restaurants, so we could fill in the name of the bank and location then use the checks - it happened a lot when I was in college (1963-1967) working at a pizza place, but the banks requested that we not let the students use them anymore, and of course we complied.

I was amazed when I did the research on this and found it can still be done! (My Yahoo! topic was "Can checks be written on anything?" and I got lots of hits.)
I scanned through the Straight Dope and Snopes subjects and they indicate that while the payee couldn't be arrested for attempting it (that part isn't illegal), it's up to the recipient to accept it or not. So a customer (or person paying their taxes) can't really present someone with any old piece of paper, or shirt, and demand that they accept it. The recipient isn't compelled by law to accept it as valid payment. I would also think in the case of the IRS, not only would they probably return it to the sender, but then charge penalties and interest on the late payment if they didn't receive a payment they will accept before the deadline.

Recipients can reject any form of payment including paper bills and coins -- so it's legal for a business to refuse "any bill over $20" or payment all in pennies.
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Mental Magpie

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Re: The "This Might Be A Stupid Question, But...." Thread
« Reply #7315 on: April 02, 2013, 02:16:21 PM »
MM, then why do people talk about buying blank checks? I am confused.

I dislike the idea of using checks that did not come from my bank. That must make it harder to check that it is an authentic check, with their safety features.

Honestly, I don't know.  I've only ever written a check thrice, and those were the three free ones I got from my bank.  I'm not entirely sure what they mean by "blank checks".  I only have experience from the retail side and "accepting" checks.
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mmswm

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Re: The "This Might Be A Stupid Question, But...." Thread
« Reply #7316 on: April 02, 2013, 02:34:33 PM »
One thing that I am kind of amused by is the fact that my bank changed their system for numbering accounts after I joined initially. So the account number that I started with (and which was printed on my checks) is not my account number any more. For whatever reason, my bank still accepts those checks that have the wrong account number, even though I know for a fact that they won't accept that account number in any other form (I had to go in and update my direct deposit at work when they made the switch, because my employer wasn't able to use the old account number to deposit my paychecks anymore).

Back end processing has ways of linking old format account numbers to new format account numbers.  It's annoying for those of us in deposit operations, and it costs the bank some amount of money.  But it's less annoying than having a whole bunch of upset customers who are forced to buy new checks or spending money giving all affected customers new checks. There will likely come a time in the future when the bank decides that enough time has gone by and there are few enough customers affected that they decide to stop honoring the old checks. 

On that note, my employer recently went through a major merger.  They tried to keep the hassle to a minimum for the customers of the bank that got swallowed up, but some hassles were unavoidable.  One of the issues was line of credit (lca) super checks. Those checks are a lot more difficult to process back end than checking/savings account checks (known as demand deposit accounts, or dda's).  At first we kept taking the old bank checks, but sent all affected customers multiple letters letting them know that their account numbers would be changing and that as of a particular date, we would no longer be accepting the old bank checks.  As that date drew nearer, we sent out additional letters and in one of the mailings we included 3 starter checks to hold them over until they could order new drafts.  It's worth noting that this particular bank doesn't charge for lca drafts, at least for the home equity accounts.  The next step was that when the date finally arrived, the tellers were instructed to discontinue accepting old bank drafts, but offer the customer an alternate method of taking out the advance, then get new drafts ordered before the customer left the store.  If the old bank drafts came in through the back end (from a merchant or another bank) we would still process them, but send out a reminder letter to the customer with some additional starter checks included, advising them to get new checks ordered, as even that service would be discontinued past X date.  X date arrived.  We started returning the checks to the payees as "invalid account number".  After all those warnings and starter checks, we still had customers write old bank checks. These got returned, but we did not charge a bounced check fee.  We again sent a reminder letter with even more sample checks, and if the customer complained, we would even pay them back for any provable fees charged by the merchant up to Y amount per item.  Customers still complained that we were being unreasonable after at least a dozen warning letters and up to three mailings of starter drafts over the course of a little over a year.

WillyNilly

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Re: The "This Might Be A Stupid Question, But...." Thread
« Reply #7317 on: April 02, 2013, 03:50:14 PM »
MM, then why do people talk about buying blank checks? I am confused.

I dislike the idea of using checks that did not come from my bank. That must make it harder to check that it is an authentic check, with their safety features.

Honestly, I don't know.  I've only ever written a check thrice, and those were the three free ones I got from my bank.  I'm not entirely sure what they mean by "blank checks".  I only have experience from the retail side and "accepting" checks.

A "blank check" is just a check, it means a check not yet filled in with payee, date, amount and signature. Look in your checkbook - its full of blank checks. If you are a cashier and some takes out their check book, before they start writing is a blank check. One could easily just say "buying new checks". Its sometimes nice to clarify though, because when you speak about "buying [a] check" from a bank it could mean something like a cashiers check, which is totally different then a personal check, and is never in the customer's hand blank.

As far as buying checks, its not like you can just walk into a stationary store and pick up a booklet. The checks you buy are printed especially for you - when you order them you have to provide your bank name and address, the routing number , your account number and the number you want your check to start with, as well as your name as it appears on the checking account (and how you want it to appear on your checks).

There are two advantages of buying checks not from your bank. One is they are often cheaper. Not always though, as some banks give free checks with checking accounts. The other is purely aesthetic: you can choose your design or color, and font (and perhaps even get matching return address labels and such), whereas banks often only offer pale blue and one font.
« Last Edit: April 02, 2013, 03:53:43 PM by WillyNilly »

Snooks

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Re: The "This Might Be A Stupid Question, But...." Thread
« Reply #7318 on: April 02, 2013, 04:00:52 PM »
It's interesting to see the difference between the UK and the US with regard to banking and phone charges.  I find it totally baffling that I would ever have to pay to use my bank's services (I believe charges were scrapped in the 70s or 80s in the UK once one bank offered free banking) or to receive a call/text.  I think I read somewhere once that experimental systems tend to start out in smaller countries which is internet banking has existed in some countries a lot longer than others.

Coruscation

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Re: The "This Might Be A Stupid Question, But...." Thread
« Reply #7319 on: April 02, 2013, 04:03:16 PM »
I hate checks with a passion.  Mostly this comes from having worked in deposit operations for a major bank.  The number of issues that can arise from personal checks is just insane.

I admit, I have been known to send someone a check when they've annoyed me, even thought it's more work for me. And I staple it to something, too.