UK High Street Banks are recommending the application of Image Survivable Features (ISFs) to cheques to help in the fight against cheque fraud.

According to ‘Fraud – The Facts 2021’, the definitive overview of payment industry fraud produced by UK Finance, cheque fraud accounted for £12.3m in 2020 with a total of £238.5m of cheque fraud prevented. This prevented figure was down from the previous 2019 figure mainly due to the efforts of the banks to address vulnerabilities identified in the move from the paper-based cheque paying in system to the image-based clearing system now in use in the UK.                

Part of this has been the adoption of ISFs on cheques. ISFs, as the name implies, remain visible on the image of the cheque once it has been scanned into the cheque clearing system. The image is then verified in clearing. ISFs contain details from the face of the cheque. The ISF is decrypted and the data compared with the cheque details, confirming whether it is either a genuine item forwarded for payment, or a fraudulent item at which point it is rejected.

Checkprint Limited in Hinckley have been working with the banks for over 30 years, producing cheques, credits and electronic payment solutions. This close working relationship means that Checkprint, a member of the TALL Group of Companies, has ‘preferred cheque supplier’ status and is a Cheque Printer Accreditation Scheme (CPAS) assessed cheque printer.

Checkprint can assist you in the application of ISFs onto your cheques (depending on your bank) and talk you through the choice of ISF that suits the type of cheque that you use whether a book cheque or computer-infilled.

There are two types of ISF available: –

  • A Unique Coded Number (UCN) which is applied to book cheques and computer cheque stock at the time of printing. The UCNencrypts the individual Cheque Number, Sort Code and Account Number into a simple alphanumeric string, a unique coded number, using a secure encryption algorithm which is printed onto the cheque in two designated positions. The UCN is always printed in two locations to ensure capture even if a receipt stamp has been used or it is otherwise obscured.  

  • The UCN Plus®, a patented ISF from Checkprint, that consists of an encrypted QR-code that is applied to computer cheques when infilled inhouse. Unlike the UCN, UCN Plus® covers all codeline and variable data, including payee name, amount and date from the printed cheque making this enhanced ISF a more robust fraud prevention option. 

Checkprint now offers two methods of business cheque production with the UCN Plus® applied: –

  • Customers can use the ‘UCN Plus® Solution’, a simple and comprehensive package, comprising software, hardware, installation services and a supply of computer cheque stock to assist customers who want to infill their own business cheques in-house including the addition of the UCN Plus®
  • Checkprint offers customers a ‘Send-A-Cheque™ Service’ where cheque data is supplied to Checkprint who then securely manage the data to print, including the UCN Plus®, and then mail the cheques (where required) on the customer’s behalf


Now is the time to sort out your ISFs as several banks have imposed deadlines on the application of ISFs onto cheques. Just give our friendly team at Checkprint a call on 01455 615616 and we will guide you through the process.