When You Take a Check

Look at the Check
  • Try to determine if the check is from a new account. Some checks are printed with a coded number by the address printed on the check or just above the signature line. This determines how old the account is. For example, the numbers 984 mean the account was opened in September 1984. This can help you, because the check writer can make a request to begin the new account with a higher number.
  • Check the printed name and address. Do not take counter checks without an address or "starter checks" or new account checks without precautions.
  • Check the date the check was written. We cannot prosecute postdated checks (a check dated several days later). If you accept a postdated check, it is at your own risk.
  • Check if the check writer has altered any words or numerals on the check. Look for different colored ink, or any other suspicious differences.
Compare the check and the person writing the check with a valid driver's license.
  • Look at the picture.
  • Compare the signatures.
  • Make sure the driver's license address is the same as printed on the checks. If the addresses do not match, verify and record the correct address.
  • Make sure the driver's license is current and valid. Do not accept an expired license as valid identification.
Obtain Important Information
Obtain the driver's license number and the person's date of birth.
  • The St. Charles County Prosecuting Attorney's Office requires these before criminal charges can be filed. If you know your customer well, you may not normally take this information, but remember we cannot help you without this information. You and your employees should initial the check, so that the person accepting the check can be identified for court testimony.
  • The driver's license is your primary source of identification. Record the date of birth as printed on the license.
  • We recommend that you record this information on the front of the check. The bank usually stamps the back of the checks during processing, making essential information illegible.
  • While these 2 pieces of identification are the minimum required by our office, the more information you can obtain the better for you and for us in trying to find the check writer. Other helpful information is the check writer's place of employment. Asking to see a major credit card will not help us file criminal charges, but it may assure you of their financial resources and that the person is who they say they are.
  • We recommend not accepting or cashing checks from people who live out of state. Extradition from other states is an extremely expensive and difficult process.