What needs to be on a check to make it stick?
April 25, 2007 12:46 PM   Subscribe

Is it legal and/or kosher for me to have my bank's name on my checks, but not its contact info or address?

I just received new checks that, for the first time, I'd ordered online from a non-bank affiliated company. All the info is correct- account number, routing number, and my name and address. They also have the name of my bank above the routing number, but, unlike my old checks they don't include its contact info (i.e. address or phone number). Is this ok, as long as the routing and account number are correct? And by ok, is it both legal and/or will it cause me problems? Possibly relevant: at this point I rarely write checks for anything but rent.

This subject has been raised before with regard to the account holder's contact info, but not re: the bank's. Thanks to all for any advice.
posted by foxy_hedgehog to Work & Money (8 answers total)
It depends on what your bank (and other banks) are willing to accept. A legal check can be almost anything. Most banks have stiff fees for non-conformant checks, though.

With the proper routing and transit numbers, your bank will likely consider it good enough, and I strongly doubt anybody to whom you write a check will scrutinize it closely enough to even notice whether or not your bank's contact info is there.

FWIW, my "official" checks do not have contact information for the bank, only the name and city.
posted by wierdo at 12:54 PM on April 25, 2007

The checks we use have just our bank name and the name of the branch where we opened the account (that doesn't exist anymore) and we've never had a problem.
posted by Lucinda at 12:59 PM on April 25, 2007

If you're worried, take them in to your bank and ask them what they think. I suspect that as long as the routing number matches the bank name, it won't be a problem, but your bank would be the authoritative source for answering your question.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 1:06 PM on April 25, 2007

Specifically to answer this question, I just conducted a review of several dozen checks drawn on all types of financial institutions from across the country. The styling ranges from "Big Bank" to "Big Bank, Bogusville, XX" to "Big Bank, 123 Dogwood Lane, Bogusville, XX" to "Big Bank, 123 Dogwood Lane, Boguseville, XX, Ph# 555-1212". So there does not appear to be some hard and fast rule.

It can be helpful for the bank processing a check deposit to have a contact number shown on the check itself, but most of them have either their own custom listing of back office contacts or they've subscribed to a Thomson Financial service to obtain that data. Also, the routing/transit number listings published by...er, I forget who...have those phone numbers, as does the R/T database from FRB Services.
posted by Midnight Creeper at 1:21 PM on April 25, 2007

Response by poster: Just sent an email to customer service querying them on this (though I deliberately went here first, since I consider the hive mind more credible on this and other matters than my bank's customer service rep, and wanted to know what people's experiences had been).
posted by foxy_hedgehog at 1:26 PM on April 25, 2007

I think the bank contact info on the check is mostly a courtesy to the person you're giving the check to (so that they could, conceivably, go to that bank and cash the check in person, if they didn't have their own account or something). With the modern ECH system, I don't think it serves any purpose.

A while back I contacted my bank about ordering checks, and they said they didn't really care what was on the check as long as the numbers were printed in the right place (and, I assume, printed with the right kind of magnetic toner); they didn't care about my address or their address being on it, and they didn't really even care whether they were 'personal' or 'business' size checks as long as they were one or the other.
posted by Kadin2048 at 1:37 PM on April 25, 2007

I ued to be a bank teller. It is perfectly fine to not have your bank's address or phone number on your checks. I did notice that non-bank issued checks were much more likely to have wrong/bad MICR encoding (the numbers along the bottom of the check, which are printed in magnetic ink to enable easy machine reading). As long as the numbers are right, though, it will process fine, even if the numbers have to be entered in by hand by the banks processing the checks.
posted by Rock Steady at 2:29 PM on April 25, 2007

I used to be in charge of custom checks for a check-printing facility. Yes, it's legal, and yes, it's kosher.

As long as the numbers along the bottom of the check are correct, you're fine. You'll also notice that you have a fractional number (probably in really small print at the top of your check) which also includes information that can be used to deduce where your bank is if the MICR at the bottom gets obliterated for some reason. So there's actually two places where your bank is identified. For people in the know, even the name of the bank is redundant.
posted by joannemerriam at 3:41 PM on April 25, 2007

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