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I noticed that when I login to my bank account online I have to type my password twice in order to see my full checking account number. Then I was writing a check and noticed the entire account number is at the bottom for anyone to see. That seemed like a security issue to me. Am I being too paranoid or would it be wise to avoid using personal checks because of the account number being visible to anyone? Also, is it possible to request personal checks with the account number partially hidden?

marked as duplicate by Nathan L united-states Jul 1 at 20:37

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That seemed like a security issue to me.

Technically, you are correct: having your bank routing number and account number on checks is a security risk.

Am I being too paranoid

Not paranoid, but (young and) inexperienced. People and companies write billions and billions and billions of checks every year.

And how much check fraud is there? A lot less than there is of debit and credit card fraud, that's for sure.

would it be wise to avoid using personal checks because of the account number being visible to anyone?

That's my absolute least concern when writing checks.

Also, is it possible to request personal checks with the account number partially hidden?

No. Check readers at banks need to see the whole thing.

  • And what check fraud there is seems to be mostly people writing checks on their own account without having money to cover them. – jamesqf Jul 2 at 5:26
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is it possible to request personal checks with the account number partially hidden?

No. The whole point of the account number is so that the banks that process the check can identify the account, so they know what account to take the money from. If there is not a complete account number on your check, how could they do that? If there isn't enough information for a fraudster to identify your account, then there isn't enough information for a legitimate user to identify your account either.

Is this a security issue? Sure. But it's a relatively minor one. Normally no one will see your check except the person you gave it to and the banks that process it. The person you gave it to could copy the number and then print counterfeit checks or enter it into a computer and make fraudulent ACH charges. That's pretty much the same problem you have with credit cards: Someone you give it to to could copy the account number and then make fraudulent charges. This happens, of course, but it's relatively rare.

Okay, technically, they don't HAVE to print your account number on your checks. One could imagine a system where each check is assigned a unique number that can only be used once, and those numbers are not sequential or otherwise easily predictable so you can't figure out what the next number is from seeing any one number. Or I'm sure some clever person could come up with some better scheme to make knowing someone's account number useless. But it would be a pain, and the fact that no one has done it is probably evidence that the amount of fraud isn't worth the trouble. It's cheaper for the bank to just eat the loss now and then than to come up with some complex scheme to prevent it.

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    The clever solutions could probably be implemented now, but could they have been implemented in 1969, with the computers they had then? (Remember the oft-cited factoid about a smart phone having more computing power than all of NASA had that year?) How about 1945? The system we have has been around a long time, it works pretty well, and most people understand it. So why fix it? – jamesqf Jul 2 at 5:35
  • @jamesqf Yes. Unless and until this sort of counterfeiting -- getting someone's account number of a check and printing fake checks or using that account number on line -- becomes a serious problem, there's no incentive to change the system. – Jay Jul 2 at 13:07

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