Security Features of Checks

Fraudulent checks cost consumers a lot of money.
Fraudulent checks cost consumers a lot of money. (Image: Andrew Bret Wallis/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images)

Banks and financial institutions use different companies to print their checks. Each company utilizes its own security features. While some use similar security measures, others go above and beyond the others. Those who suspect they are victim to identity theft or check fraud should contact the bank and have them do a thorough investigation. A quick inspection of the checks against their security features helps determine authenticity. Some of the most secure checks come from the U.S. Treasury. Other check printing companies try to emulate their features to eliminate fraud.

Bleeding Seals

Many types of checks incorporate a special picture or symbol that has bleeding ink. The U.S. Treasury department, for example, uses a black security seal that turns red when you add water. It acts differently than the ink on the rest of the check because it bleeds. Usually the seal sits in one of the corners of the check.


Microprinting represents another check security feature meant to eliminate fraud. When you see this type of print on a check, it appears as a line or dots. If you look at it with a magnifying glass, however, you notice words. Fraudulent checks usually incorporate the line you see with the naked eye, but when you magnify the printing, you see no words.


Some check printing companies and the U.S. Treasury use ultraviolet overprinting. This print or picture shows up only when you pass the check under a black light. The printing glows. Since a photocopy machine will not duplicate ultraviolet overprinting, it makes these checks very secure.

Watermarked Paper

Watermarking represents a common security feature on checks. The check company prints them directly on watermarked paper. When held up to a light, words or pictures show up on both the front and the back. Visible watermarks without holding the check up to a light indicate possible fraud. The U.S. Treasury checks have the words, “U.S. Treasury” watermarked all over the paper.

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