What are the best practices and controls for handling checks?

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There are several process controls to consider when processing checks. A processing log should be maintained to control the number of checks printed versus the number of the checks issued for printing. TAPN has an example log on the site that can help.

Some companies are able to segregate the check file preparation, the actual check printing, the check stuffing and mailing. For instance, the AP disbursement analyst prepares the check file for a print run. The document print analyst activates the actual check printing. The checks are placed in envelopes by someone independent of the previous two processes and then the checks are sent to the mail room. As a sub process of the actual check printing, a log may be maintained where a person independent of the check preparation and printing gives pre-numbered checks to the printing department, which must sign a log documenting the number of checks provided for printing.

Once the printing is completed, the checks are issued to the person who is stuffing the envelopes, who must sign out the checks and make sure they get all of the checks back including any voided checks due to misprinting. If you are using a check signature machine, make sure there is a control to document the number of checks signed by the machine against the check number sequence issued. Also, try to use a machine that requires a dual password by two persons to activate the machine. One of the two persons with passwords should be a manager. Voided checks should be defaced appropriately; consider tearing off a portion of the signature line. You should also consider:

  • Security features on your check stock: watermarks/pantographic VOID when the check is copied
  • Stale date (e.g., void after 90 days...) on the check
  • Prismatic color printing on the face of the check (makes it very hard for someone to forge the color scheme of your check stock)
  • Micro printing in the border or signature line of the check
  • Laser lock printing paper so that once it's imprinted someone cannot remove the ink with tape and tamper with the names or values on the printed check
  • Dual signatures for amounts over a certain dollar value
  • All signed checks reviewed by a manager at the appropriate level with the check log documentation. This allows the manager to spot check the information in the log.

    These are some general control procedures in a check environment. The procedures will depend upon how each organization is structured and on its size.

 

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