If you count a lot of checks at your church, a check reader can make the job significantly easier while improving your data entry accuracy.
What does a check reader do?
A check reader does:
- Automatically select the donor profile every time you scan a check with that number, after you've assigned the number.
- Read the numbers at the bottom of a check (the “MICR”). The check number isn't always included with the MICR, but when it is, the check number field will be auto-filled while adding that donation to a batch.
A check reader does not:
- Scan the check (copy and store the image of the check) or remotely deposit check donations to your bank account (Remote Deposit Capture).
- Auto-fill donation information in the batch entry form (i.e. the check amount or donation date).
See the Integrations article to check out third-party integrations that have some of this functionality.
Here are some tips on purchasing and using check readers to use with Giving:
- The MagTek MICRSafe (model 22551002) and MagTek MiniMICR (model 22523009) check readers are supported for use with Giving.
- If you're purchasing new, we suggest the MICRSafe model instead., since the MagTek MiniMICR is discontinued.
- If you have a different check reader, you can try the steps in Test your Check Reader. If these steps work properly with another brand or model of check reader, even if it is not listed in this article, it will work with Giving.
MagTek MICRSafe check readers are roughly $250, and if you're counting a lot of checks every week, they 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, so you won't need to hassle with software or device drivers.
Here are a few places you can purchase one:
Before buying, make sure that 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.
Use Your Check Reader
A check reader reads the numbers at the bottom of a check (the “MICR”), and assigns that number to a donor's profile. Once assigned, it will automatically pull up the associated donor for faster donation entry.
You can use your check reader by following these steps:
- Create a batch.
- Put your cursor in the Add a Donation search box.
- Insert the check into the check reader.
- The first time you read a check for a donor, type in the donor's name, email, or phone number to search for their profile. When you select the donor, the MICR number will automatically be assigned to their profile.
- Include the rest of the information for the donation, including the check number and amount.
- Commit the batch.
After you've assigned the MICR number to a donor, the next time you read a check with that MICR number, the donor's profile will be automatically selected.
We recommend that you manually process bill-pay checks. When someone uses a bill-pay system, the MICR number will be shared with anyone else using bill-pay at that same bank. The last donor assigned to that MICR number will be recognized when reading bill-pay checks from that bank.
Test Your Check Reader
If your check reader is not working properly, run a test.
- Open a text document (like a Word doc). Make sure the curser is focused on the document as if you were going to type.
- Read a check. If it spits out something like "T126400734T 005020368721U0132" and then jumps to the next row (as if you pressed the return/enter key) then things are looking good. Make sure you're seeing those T's and U's!
- Now try to read 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.
Some symptoms of a misconfigured check reader are:
- 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 probably need reset your check reader.
Reset Your Check Reader
If you follow this procedure, you will reset 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.
1. Find a Windows Computer
MagTek says this software will only work with Windows 98/ME/NT/2000/XP. However, in our testing, it ran fine on both a Windows 7 and Windows 10 computer.
2. Download and Extract the Software
Download the MICRbase software from MagTek to the Windows computer.
Go to the 99510075.exe file that you downloaded. Double-click the file, and select a directory where you want to extract the zip file.
3. Connect the Check Reader
Connect the MagTek check reader to the computer.
4. Run the MICRbase App
Go into the folder you extracted, and double-click the MICRbase.exe app.
Select Communication > Communication Setup from the MagTek app menu.
Select the USB KB interface type.
Click the Test button.
When the test is finished, make sure that you see the message Status: Communication test passed.
If the test doesn't pass, start over and try the test again. If it still doesn't pass, you might need to replace your check reader.
Click the red box in the upper right corner of the window to close it.
Click Configure in the menu.
In the MICR Type (Options) menu, select USB KB Wedge.
Click the Download Configuration to MICR button to send the default configuration to the check reader.
Make sure you don't switch windows, type, unplug the reader, or do anything while this process is running.
When the process is finished, the reader will be reset. You won't receive a success message.
You will get a message if it fails. If it does fail, you can try it again.
Run a few test checks in PCO Giving to make sure everything is looking good. If you're still seeing weirdness, click the question mark button in the top right corner of PCO Giving and let us know.