Many people think of checks made of paper as being a thing of the past as there are electronic payment methods such as Venmo, Zelle, and Apple Pay, but there remain some scenarios in which it may be better to utilize them. These are the instances when it’s more secure or beneficial to use a personal or paper check, the best way to use checks in a safe manner, and when it’s okay to not use them.
You may wish to write a check in any of the following circumstances:
- Shopping at a small-scale business
- Giving money as a gift
- Tracing important payments
- Your identity is at risk.
Shopping at a Small Business
Due to their size and processing charges, some small businesses aren’t able to accept credit cards. A recent study found that only 27% of small businesses prefer digital payments (think of credit cards or ApplePay) over non-digital ones (cash or cool military checks, as well as money orders). If you employ someone to mow your lawn, buy items from a local market as well as a flea market vendor, and even employ the occasional dog walker, then you might need to keep a cashier’s check available to pay them.
If you’re pressed for time and you’re planning an anniversary party, wedding, or other family celebration, that probably means tucking money into a card. But if you’re looking to give money as gifts, checks might be a better option instead of cash. While both cash and check could easily get lost in the excitement of unwrapping presents, one is addressed specifically to the person and one isn’t.
This may help the recipient recall who gave them the cash. If they set cash to the side and come back to it in the future, they may not recall who gave it to them. The gift of money through checks could help the recipient keep the funds instead of spending them in a hurry. You’ll need to go to any bank or an app for mobile devices to deposit the money or cash it, which can take a little more effort.
Tracing Important Payments
When making a substantial payment such as the down payment of the purchase of a house, a college tuition bill or a deposit for a ceremony venue, or even making a payment to a government agency such as the IRS it is possible to make a check-in paper. This can help ensure your payment is received since you’ll be able to see when the other party deposits or cashes the check on your bank’s next statement or via your bank’s online portal. Some banks will even show you a photo of the check that was cashed so you can ensure it’s right.
This can also help to prevent you from having to pay costs for late payments as the transactions are all date-stamped. Additionally, if your check is lost or stolen, you can request to cancel your payment through the bank’s customer support line or online via the bank’s website. To place a stop payment on the check, you’ll have to click the “stop payment” option via your bank’s online portal but you should do this prior to the check being cashed. There’s also the need to enter the account number, the check’s number, and the total amount of the check. Remember that you will likely be charged a fee to stop the check. The fees will vary from bank to bank, however, you could be charged about $30,000 to stop the transaction, and some banks may cost more.
If You’ve Been the Victim of Fraud
Are your confidential financial data been stolen or compromised? It’s not a problem for everyone. One study found that in the year 2018, 14.4 million people in the U.S. were victims of identity fraud which amounted to a total of $3.4 billion worth of loss. The worst part is that the same study found that even more victims had to pay out of their pockets to pay for the costs of that fraud.
Given these numbers is logical that you’d need to ensure your personal information is safe in case you’ve had to deal with similar issues. Many people go back to using cash checks or paper checks in lieu of swiping the debit or credit card at local stores. They could also opt not to enter their payment information on retail websites online or make use of online and electronic payment options. While writing a paper check isn’t an absolute security measure, keeping your sensitive information offline and swiping your credit card less may aid in reducing the chances in which identity theft is committed, as well as fraud, and other financial crimes.