If you count a lot of checks at your church, a check reader machine can make the job significantly easier while improving your data entry accuracy. Planning Center Giving works with the MagTek MiniMICR, an older (now discontinued) model as well as the MagTek MICRSafe model.
MagTek MICRSafe Check Reader
MagTek MICRSafe Check Readers are roughly $250, and, if you're counting a lot of checks every week, are worth every penny! There are two models of the MICRSafe reader, 22511001 and 22551002, but we only support 22551002, which has USB keyboard emulation, meaning you won't need to hassle with software or device drivers.
Here are a few places you can purchase one:
Before buying, ensure the unit says "USB keyboard emulation" somewhere in the description. When purchasing a refurbished or second-hand MagTek check reader, there's a chance it may come misconfigured. If you don't want to go the through the hassle of resetting it, buy a new one.
MagTek MiniMICR Check Reader
Although it is discontinued, this model still works with Planning Center Giving. If you already own it, it should work fine with Giving. However, if you're purchasing new, get the MICRSafe model instead.
If your check reader is not working properly, run through a test.
If the reader fails to scan the routing, account, and check number (if present on the check); if it fails to include the T's and U's; or if it fails to jump to the next row, you may have a check reader with altered settings, which means it will need to be reset to its factory settings.
Testing Your Check Reader
If you have another brand of check reader, or you have a MagTek and aren't sure of the model number, there's a simple way to test the device:
- Open a text document like a Word doc. Make sure the cursor is focused and blinking on the document as if you were going to type.
- Scan a check. If it spits out something like "T126400734T 005020368721U0132" and then jumps to the next row (as if it hit the return/enter key) then things are looking good. Make sure you're seeing those T's and U's!
- Next, scan the check backward. If it spits out a string of numbers and letters containing one or more question marks, then the machine is correctly communicating a misread. Congratulations! That check reader will work with Planning Center Giving.
If those steps work on a different check reader than those listed already, let us know the make and model, and we'll add it to this list!
Check scanning (copying and storing the image of the check) is not currently offered; however, it is something we're considering. If this is a feature you'd like to see, please email email@example.com.
Remote deposit, or remote deposit capture, is not supported. However, your bank may provide you this service (and possibly the check scanner) separately. It means that your checks will need to be scanned twice: once in Giving and once in your bank's system. As a count verification method, some customers actually find this extra scan a good quality measure in the check processing to guard against potential passive misreads. If this is a feature you'd like to see, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
PCO Giving supports MagTek check readers. These devices can be purchased from a number of places. Often, you can find good deals on used or refurbished units. While these units might work well mechanically, they sometimes carry settings that render them inoperable with PCO Giving. Should you find yourself with one of these units, here are few steps to test or reset your check reader.
How to test your check reader:
- Open a text document (like a Word doc). Make sure the curser is focused on the document as if you were going to type.
- Now scan a check. If it spits out something like "T126400734T 005020368721U0132" and then jumps to the next row (as if it hit the return/enter key) then things are looking good. Note: make sure you're seeing those T's and U's!
- Now do the same thing, but try and scan the check backwards. If it spits out a string of numbers and letters containing one or more question marks, then the machine is correctly communicating a misread.
You know it's not working correctly if:
- The output omits the T's and U's.
- There are tabs, rather than spaces, between the routing and account numbers.
- The output omits the check number (even though it's printed on the bottom of the check).
If any of the above are true, you have a misconfigured check reader.
How to reset it:
WARNING: You're resetting all the settings of your check reader. If you share this particular check reader with other applications, resetting your check reader to the factory settings may cause issues with other software.
STEP 1 - Find a Windows computer
According to our software stats, many of our customers use Macs. We do too. Unfortunately, this won't work on your beautiful, aluminum pressed machines. Locate that Lenovo laptop. Dig up that dusty Dell. And get ready for some fun!
MagTek says this software will only work with Windows 98/ME/NT/2000/XP. However, in our testing, it ran fine on a Windows 7 computer.
Step 2 - Download the MICRbase software from MagTek
Step 3: Extract the software
You just downloaded an exe file that is a self-extracting zip file.
If you double click the file, you'll need to select a directory where you want to extract it.
In this example, we extracted it straight to the Downloads folder:
Step 4: Plug the MagTek check reader into the computer
Step 5: Run the MICRBase app
Go into the folder you extracted and find the MICRbase.exe app.
Step 6: Select Communication > Communication Setup
Step 7: Select the "USB KB" interface type
Step 8: Run a test
Step 9: Make sure the test passed
This indicates that the software and the check reader are talking to each other correctly.
Step 10: Close that window
Not the whole app. Just that window.
Step 11: Click the "Configure" menu button
Step 12: Select the "USB KB Wedge" option
In the "MICR Type (Options)" menu.
Step 13: Press the "DOWNload Configuration to MICR" button
In this step, you're sending the default configuration to the check reader.
Make sure you don't switch windows, type, unplug the reader, or do anything during this process. The progress will advance and, upon successful completion, the reader will be reset. There's no real success message. You will get a message if it fails though. If it does fail, you can try it again.
Whew. Run a few test checks in PCO Giving to make sure everything is looking good. If you're still seeing weirdness, hit the question mark button in the top right corner of PCO Giving and let us know.
Pour yourself a tasty beverage. Hug your kids. Tell them about your wild MagTek adventure.