Checks Going the Way of the Dodo

By Ken Kalthoff
|  Thursday, Nov 12, 2009  |  Updated 7:39 AM CDT
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Checks Going the Way of the Dodo

Across America, fewer and fewer people are using checks.

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Checks Going the Way of the Dodo

Across America, fewer and fewer people are using checks.
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Across America, fewer and fewer people are using checks.

The Dallas Branch of the Federal Reserve Bank processed about 4.5 million checks per day just three years ago. But when the bank quit processing checks Oct. 16, it was down to only 150,000 per day.

Hundreds of government jobs were eliminated. Instead of 43 offices, the Fed will process checks at just one next year in Cleveland.

“Checks are not the most efficient way to move payment, payment data,” said Jayh Betsill, of the Dallas Federal Reserve. ”Just moving the data itself is much more efficient.”

People who pay with checks sometimes find themselves the scorn of other people in line at the grocery store.

“Called me the last of the Mohicans,” said Rett Tucker, who was shopping at the Kroger on Mockingbird Lane in Dallas.

He said he finds it easier to keep track of his transactions with a checkbook.

“I’ve never used a debit card; it just strikes me as a headache," Tucker said.

Paying by check can slow the grocery checkout line, because most stores want to see a customer's identification when paying by check.

“We want to make sure that that is that customer when we’re accepting that check,” said Kroger spokesman Gary Huddleston.

Businesses pay transaction fees for all the swipes with credit and debit cards, but that’s still cheaper than processing checks.

“There is cost savings by not having to handle a piece of paper," Huddleston said. "You can loose the piece of paper, the check. And certainly depositing those with armored car service and all. Those things reduce cost."

Most customers at that Kroger recently said they are sold on paying with plastic.

“It’s just easier. It takes less time,” customer Colleen Watson said. “I use a bank card. It takes it out of my checking account anyway.”

The Federal Reserve does not expect to see a day when checks disappear. And most stores are still happy to accept your money any way you chose to pay.

But Tucker said he believes there is a limit.

“If you’re, like, buying a loaf of bread and you’re writing a check, I think you’re going to get shot," he said.

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