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Checkmate for checkbooks?

By Marcie Geffner ·
Wednesday, December 29, 2010
Posted: 9 am ET

Is the traditional bank account checkbook a dead technology?

Maybe. Or maybe not.

It's no secret that technologies, loosely defined, sweep by faster today than they ever did in the past. Classic toys that delighted children in the 1950s are ancient history. Once-common items like hotel room keys, user's manuals, camera film and pay telephones have largely disappeared. More obvious things like monochromatic monitors, dot-matrix printers and 8-inch floppy disks are long gone as well.

True, many people still use paper checks, deposit slips and registers to make purchases, pay bills, deposit money and keep track of checking account balances. Many small business don't accept any other form of payment. Checks are also often used to pay landlords, babysitters, building-trade contractors, housemaids and gardeners and to make charitable contributions.

Checks do have certain advantages. They create a paper trail. There are no PINs to remember. They can be cashed. And they don't involve the hidden fees that plastic money usually entails.

Yet many people now manage entirely, or almost entirely, without checks. In a world of debit and credit cards, gift cards, direct deposits, person-to-person electronic payments, online payments, online banking and mobile banking, checks may indeed seem old-fashioned.

Electronic banking is certainly faster and more convenient than checks, but still, something is lost without personalized checks, checkbook styles and covers, and that age-old cliche excuse, "The check's in the mail."

So, do you still use your checkbook or does "Can I write you a check?" seem laughable?

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January 05, 2011 at 9:22 am

How safe are checks really? With your account number and signature on the bottom of a check, isn't it possible for your check to be washed or cloned? If you have overdraft protection on your checking account, isn't your savings account (or overdraft method) also at risk?

December 30, 2010 at 11:00 am

Of course I use checks! Csah and checks are the only way to go, and the only way to maintain privacy, especially with cash, for purchases made. No fees, no store or advertising database to mine, a paper trail, and the best protection against identity theft. What's not to like?