You probably think that when you pay someone by cheque, the money will come out of your account when they present it, right? After all, your account number, name and signature are on it. They'd have to match.... Or would they?

The reality in the US is that the institution at which the cheque is presented just scans it. If the MICR line is misread, money will just be sucked out of the wrong account. Nobody checks the other details. Even the issuing institution may not bother to check the details when it forces the account into overdraft, losing the innocent accountholder interest, costing fees, and potentially causing legitimate payments to fail and hurt the inadvertent payer's credit score.

cheque front cheque back

I'm not Brian. I'm not Katie. I'm not in Yakima. I don't have an account in Yakima. My account number is not the same as the number blanked out at the bottom. My signature is also nothing like Katie's. Yet Yakima Valley Credit Union (YVCU) managed to deduct the money from my account and Washington State Employees Credit Union (WSECU) processed the withdrawal, even though the account had insufficient funds available. You know the real kicker? It's happened before.

Do you wonder how easy theft is in the US? Do you wonder how easy identify theft is in the US? Just think of what's possible if you forge the numbers. Nobody will check any part of the transaction and you can make off with as much money as you like, not even limited by the victim's balance!