Cheques and Red Ink Do Not Mix

So in the twilight days of cheque writing, we read a cautionary tale of using red ink when writing a cheque. In the US, one of the major bank’s scanners did not record a cheque written in red ink, marked the cheque as fraudulent and caused a couple’s account to be shut down leaving them without access to their money to pay the mortgage or bills, and even a trip to the bank did not resolve the issue.

Cheque with Red Ink

It all started when Judy Lackey and her husband, Ethan Sorrelgreen, each got a cheque for $100 from Sorrelgreen’s grandmother for Christmas. The grandma “is going blind and she could only find a red pen to write the cheques,” Lackey says.

They deposited the cheques via an ATM machine and it was not until a few days later they found that neither cheque had been recorded and that their account had been closed due to fraud. They contacted the bank who told them that any funds remaining on the account would be refunded in 10 days. Without access to their account and no other funds, the couple were placed in the unenviable position of not being able to pay their mortgage or bills.

A visit to a sympathetic bank manager also proved to be unsuccessful. He made a number of phone calls but there was nothing he could do as the bank process where fraud was suspected was to shut down the account.

In the end, the couple contacted the San Francisco Chronicle who was successful/ in getting the bank to reopen the account to the couple’s great satisfaction. Apparently, the bank’s scanners indicated that that the red-ink cheques showed up as blank and were reported to the fraud team. The imaging system is black and white and picks up black and blue ink more clearly.

So if you are still using cheques, remember – black or blue is better!

Photo of author

Tony Bridges

As a seasoned journalist and freelance writer, I've spent over three decades telling stories and exploring the world through the written word. With a passion for writing instruments, I found my niche at The Pen Vibe, a blog that shares our collective fascination with pens, pencils, and other tools that have shaped the art of writing.

1 thought on “Cheques and Red Ink Do Not Mix”

Leave a Comment