In the past writing checks was as simple as
getting checks pre-printed that didn't involve using a
MICR Toner Cartridge
or even needing to know where the routing number was suppose to line up at. Back
in the day, criminals could print checks using an offset commercial printer with
access to check paper like in the movie - Catch Me, If You Can - with the
leading star Leonardo DiCaprio, the criminal who ran around impersonating
several professional's ie... doctor, airline pilot, lawyer in the movie. A lot
of scenes there showed him cashing Pan Am Airline checks that he wrote using a
typewriter. Well, his job in the movie would have been easier if he had a MICR
Banks have started to find ways to streamline their handling of checks as more people grew mobile and (perhaps have grown rich) found more use for bank checks. To automate the processing of these, a standard electronic processing, handling and reading system was established. This is now known as Magnetic Ink Character Recognition. Where high speed sorters and readers are used to process a massive amount of checks through the banking system with point blank accuracy and lightening speeds. But how does the average business print their checks in-house? They add a MICR Toner Cartridge to their laser printer and then place blank check stock in the paper drawer and they are ready.
The American National Standards Institute (ANSI)
defines MICR or Magnetic Ink Character Recognition as the accepted machine
language specification used in payment transactions on paper – that’s bank
checks for you. These are characters printed (MICR Printing) in a special
magnetic ink (MICR Toner Cartridge) that is then read by high speed magnetic equipment
that is especially made to recognize these. MICR printing follows an agreed
pattern or syntax that, besides authenticating the check, provides the bank with
the necessary information like the account number, bank routing number, check
number and even the amount requested.
Printed with an E-13B font or CMC-7 font, these MICR characters have to follow a standard arrangement of numbers and symbols for these to be read by a high speed check sorting and reading machine. Just like some barcode fonts, these symbols have a pre-determined prefix and suffix that serve as codes for these machines—there’s no way Leonardo DiCaprio’s character could decipher this as MICR printing follows a lot of strict conditions such as the positioning of the printed lines in relation to the Clear Band Area of the check. The line and character placements and the quality itself are critical requirements for a check to be recognized.
MICR printing involves a special formulation ink found in a MICR Toner Cartridge, and these can be printed using a laser printer or printed on a printing press or w/ impact machines. The MICR Toner Cartridge is magnetically charged so that the reader-sorter machines can recognize them through each character’s unique shape. These characters give a magnetic “fingerprint” that is decoded by the machine. And since it is a machine that optically recognizes these characters, it become important then to have an even or consistent print quality, correct placement of characters on the designated printing area to ensure readability.
You can use your regular desktop laser printer in MICR printing as long as you use a MICR Toner Cartridge. A MICR Toner Cartridge is specially formulated magnetic toner that are not the type that you usually use with your printers. Trying to use regular toner would result in print-outs that could not be read by reader-sorter machines at the bank. These may be readable to the human eye but what the reader-sorter machines are looking for are the magnetic signal or the electronic “fingerprints.” Trying to pass a check in a bank with invalid MICR codes by not using a MICR Toner Cartridge will have them rejected at the clearing center, may cause you a lot of delays, or worse, the bank teller may suspect a modern Frank Abagnale, Jr. who is totally clueless about Magnetic Ink Character Recognition. When it comes to finding a MICR Toner Cartridge today it is fairly simple. They are found at most office supply stores, but may have to be ordered since they are a specialized product. When considering a purchase of a MICR Toner Cartridge you should always consider the effectiveness of the toner as well as the reputation of the vendor.
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