The advent of the Check Clearing for the 21st Century Act, or 'Check 21', has created a new document in the check clearing process - the 'substitute check', also known as an IRD (Image Replacement Document). The legal provisions of Check 21 place great emphasis on ensuring that substitute checks meet rigorous quality standards and that creators of such checks make reasonable efforts to transfer all available information and security features from the original item.
IRD Seal provides both protection of the substitute check itself from alteration or forgery and enables security features from the original item to be carried forward. The core technology - Secure Seal, an image-survivable security feature that enables fraudulent alteration of checks to be automatically detected - has undergone rigorous testing in check processing environments and achieved very high read rates, leading to its adoption by the US Treasury and major US banks. IRD Seal requires no special inks or toners and can be easily integrated into the substitute check print stream.
IRD Seal provides a number of levels of security to substitute checks depending on their position in the clearing cycle and the presence of security features on the original item. The IRD Seal software, which is being delivered as part of Fiserv's substitute check printing solution, creates an encoded graphic, called a 'Seal', which is printed within Region 8F, the area reserved for optional data in the ANSI X9.90 standard. Encoded into the seal is information relating to:
- the payee name and account (from the original Secure Seal)
- details of the IRD creator
- details of the truncating bank
Although this information is printed in OCR type-font on the substitute check, inclusion in the IRD Seal protects against alteration or forgery of the substitute check. For return substitute checks created directly from an original check image, the IRD Seal can include a ''Return Code''.
In cases where the original check contains an image-survivable security feature such as Secure Seal, IRD Seal software enables data from the security feature - such as payee name, amount, account number - to be transferred to the new IRD Seal.
EnSeal's managing director, Graham Shaw commented: "Since its launch two years ago, Secure Seal technology has already made it much tougher for criminals to commit check fraud. With IRD Seal, banks can now extend the protection that Secure Seal offers to substitute checks."
Shaw continued: "As well as protecting against fraud, IRD Seal will greatly assist banks meet the exacting standards required in ensuring that all available information and security features are transferred from the original item to the substitute check, simply, reliably and cost-effectively."
With the Check Clearing for the 21st Century Act due to become effective on October 28, EnSeal is reporting considerable interest in IRD Seal from commercial banks planning for Check 21 implementation. IRD Seal will begin shipping immediately.