When I first began writing checks in my high-school econ class, my parents made me do three things when it came to endorsing a check for deposit.
- Sign my name</li>
- Put my acct number</li>
- Write the words "Deposit only"</li>
Now, you may be asking yourself "why #2" and for good reason. I always asked myself the same thing. I guess I could understand #3 to some extent, and really it doesn't seem to make much difference in what else you may write on the check as long as they've got that signature.
My parents justification was "well, if there's a question about which account it goes into, putting the acct # there will clarify that". Hmm. Ok, well, that makes sense I guess. But thinking a bit longer about that explanation leads one to questions oneself. "That's not how ATMs work...is it?"
Last time I was at an ATM to deposit a check, the transaction went something like this
- slide your ATM card</li>
- enter your pin</li>
At this point, logic would dictate that all future "stuff" you may do will be recorded as being done by you. The Tim. Not the other Tim, the current Tim.
- give check to ATM</li>
- ATM reads check, asks if deposit guess is correct</li>
- Yes or no</li>
- Receipt if asked for</li>
So if you were to stop and think about the potential ways to C.Y.A here, you've got
- A transaction log that may have been created when you swiped your card and enter your pin</li>
- Verification by ATM that deposit amount was correct</li>
- Receipt from ATM that you made a deposit. Some banks will print your deposit check on the receipt too.</li>
- Record in bank's website that there is a pending transaction on your checking account</li>
- Picture of check on bank's website for your account after check has made its way through system</li>
Which leads me to ask "whats the point of writing the account number" ?
The simple answer is that there is no point, there never was a point, and you should stop doing it now because it's not helping things.
Let me point out something that you may not have noticed. Let's say your bank takes pictures of your checks and posts them online in your transaction register. Usually they take two pictures. A picture of the front and a picture of the back. Well, if you take a moment to look at the picture of the back of the check, guess what you'll see?
- A signature</li>
- An account number</li>
- The words "Deposit Only"</li>
Whoops, shouldn't have added those extra items...
So yes. With the advancements in technology and the lack of any form of liability on the consumers part for bank mishaps, I would suggest that it is sufficient to only write your signature on the back of the check. Well, maybe a haiku or something would also be appropriate if you've got the extra space.