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This is something I recently noticed. Maybe it has been going on for a while and I never realized it before. I issue a check to pay quarterly estimated taxes, payable to the "United States Treasury". The bank does not return checks anymore, but does provide a digital image. When I check the image of the back of the check there is a stamp that reads,

"nn nnn nnn nnnnn n ssinumber" "zzzz nn nnnnnn nnnnnn"

Where "n" represents numbers, and "z" represents letters. It's all coded, and there are no instructions on how to decode the numbers and letters.

There is no endorsement stamp that reads "United States Treasury". So ... the question is three-fold:

  1. Why is there no "United States Treasury" endorsement?
  2. Can I have the check returned for proper endorsement?
  3. If I am required to endorse checks made out to me, why isn't the US Treasury?

Many years ago I took some banking courses, and a check endorsement would seem to be part of Banking 101.

  • I never endorse checks before depositing. I think it very unlikely that you will win such a battle. – Nathan L Jan 14 '16 at 17:49
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    Why do you think you're required to endorse checks? If you are, maybe it's your bank policy, but I'm with @NathanL, I haven't endorsed checks for years. The only time I started is when doing deposits via smartphone, and I don't even know if that's required. Also, if you do return it for proper endorsement, it will probably mean your payment isn't timely (and you still won't get it endorsed). – blm Jan 14 '16 at 17:56
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    What difference does this make to you? – DJClayworth Jan 14 '16 at 18:04
  • I wouldn't be surprised if the physical check never even made it back to your bank, or at least made it back for quite a while. Odds are they deposit them electronically, as do most larger entities (cf. your local grocery store). – Joe Jan 14 '16 at 18:12
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    Aside from anything else, I don't think it's that surprising that there are things the US Treasury can do that you can't do. – BrenBarn Jan 15 '16 at 4:53
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1.Why is there no "United States Treasury" endorsement?

Why should there be, and what do you think it would look like? Some person at Treasury sitting at a desk all day signing "Uncle Sam"? At most you would expect to see some stamp, because it's clear that no person is going to sign all of these checks.

2.Can I have the check returned for proper endorsement?

No, this is none of your business unless you have some serious reason to believe that someone other than the treasury cashed your check. (If that were really your concern, then you'd have a bigger issue than the endorsement.)

3.If I am required to endorse checks made out to me, why isn't the US Treasury?

As others have noted, an endorsement is often not required as long as the name on the check matches a name on the account to which it is deposited. Individual banks may have stricter rules, but that's between you and your bank.

  • Very recently I was charged twice by two separate health insurance providers (one provider had taken over for a failing exchange - another long story) for the same policy. The bank had to go through a very lengthy process of tracking down the source of the electronic debit as proof that I had been charged twice. If there had been a canceled AND ENDORSED check, proof of exchange between payee and payor would have been simple. I'm all in for digital reproductions ... but give me something better than a line item on a statement. The system needs improving. – Larz Jan 14 '16 at 21:08
  • All systems have some flaws, although it doesn't seem like the endorsement would have helped in your case. Different example: I had a tax payment check that was cashed by the gov't but not credited to my account. That resulted in a letter saying that I failed to pay, assessing penalties, etc. Although very annoying, it was immediately cleared up by sending a copy of the canceled check. Endorsement irrelevant. (OK - Not immediately since it is the gov't after all, but they cleared my record without any trouble once they got around to reading my letter.) @Larz – user32479 Jan 14 '16 at 21:19
  • many times I've deposited checks by listing an account # ONLY. – michael Jan 15 '16 at 23:37
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Welcome to the 21st century, the New Order.

Forget all that legal mumbo jumbo you may have read back in law school in the 1960s about commercial code. Its all gone now. Now we have Check 21 and the Patriot Act !!!

Basically what this means is that because some Arab fanatics burned down the World Trade Center, the US government and its allied civilian banking company henchmen now have total control and dictatorship over "your" money, which is no longer really money, but more like a "credit" to your account with THEM which they can do with what they want. Here are some of the many consequences of the two aforementioned acts:

(1) You can no longer sue a bank for mishandling your money

(2) All your banking transaction information is the joint property of the bank, its "affiliates" and the US Treasury

(3) You can no longer conduct private monetary transactions with other people using a bank as your agent; you can only request that a bank execute an unsecured transaction on your behalf and the bank has total control over that transaction and the terms on which occurs; you have no say over these terms and you cannot sue a bank over any financial tort on you for any reason.

(4) All banks are required to spy on you, report any "suspicious" actions on your part, develop and run special software to detect these "suspicious actions", and send their employees to government-run educational courses where they are taught to spy on customers, how to report suspicious customers and how to seize money and safe deposit boxes from customers when the government orders them to do so.

(5) All banks are required to positively identify everyone who has a bank account or safe deposit box and report all their accounts to the government.

(6) No transactions can be done anonymously. All parties to every banking transaction must be identified and recorded.

So, from the above it should be clear to (if you are a lawyer) why no endorsement is present. That is because your check is not a negotiable instrument anymore, it is merely a request to the bank to transfer funds to the Treasury. The Treasury does not need to "endorse" anything. In fact, legally speaking, the Treasury could simply order your bank to empty your account into theirs, and they actually do this all the time to people they are "investigating" for supposed crimes.

You don't need to endorse checks you receive either because, as I said above, the check is no longer a negotiable instrument. Banks still have people do it, but it is just a pro forma habit from the old days. Since you can't sue the bank, the endorsement is pretty meaningless because it cannot be challenged in court anyway. You could probably just write "X" there and they would deposit it.

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