Whereas cash is virtually untraceable, checks provide investigating authorities with perhaps the most complete set of opportunities for finding out who paid what to whom, when – and, by asking around, perhaps also why.
Both the face and back of any cleared check is stored for posterity on microfilm, giving away the following information to those who may care to look:
Name and location of issuing bank, account number on which check was drawn, issuing date, amount, more often than not to whom the check was originally made out, and a nice copy of the signature of the account owner.
The back of the check will likewise show the signature of whoever cashed or deposited the check plus, if applicable, the signature of the original recipient of the check who later endorsed it and, lastly, either number of the ГО (driver’s license, passport) used to cash the check or the number of the account to which the check was deposited.
Now isn’t that nice! If you write a check on an account later established to be owned by you, not only may any remaining funds in the account be seized, liened or attached but microfilm copies of all checks ever drawn on the account may be easily procured and investigated.
This is why, if you do not wish anyone to know where you live, you should never use a check to pay your rent – not even once! If the account is ever discovered to be connected to you then the police, tax authorities or a private investigator will have a direct lead to your landlord and, through him, to your physical whereabouts. Reversely, anyone receiving a check from you may opt to make a photocopy of it before depositing it and will in this fashion retain information about your bank account. If you use a check to make the first few installments on, say, rent or a loan that you later fail to keep up, the clever creditor or landlord will be in a position to furnish a court with all the information that is necessary to freeze or seize your account and everything in it. If you pay for a maildrop by check, you have totally blown your cover.
To further elaborate on the problems this may cause you, suppose you are in another country and pay something by a check drawn on an account which, unbeknown to you, has ы я ffozen in your absence. As a foreigner, you will most likely have to show your passport for the check to be accepted and your passport number will be noted on the back. When the check later turns out to be bad, the person on the receiving end of the bum check will be in a position to give local authorities your passport number which may result in your being apprehended at the airport the next time you either enter or leave the country (the latter provided that computer checks are made of passport numbers on departing that country).
Now, you may not wish to live without checks although it is perfectly possible and much safer. But take all relevant precautions. You should fully realize that whenever you write a check, you implicitly give anyone in a position to investigate either your own account or that belonging to the recipient of the check, a veritable carte blanche to pursue the connection between you and him very thoroughly. The worst part of it is that it may not even be you yourself who needs to make a mistake – someone else may make the mistake for you, opening a Pandora’s box of grief for you. Let us say, for instance, that you pay a lawyer for services rendered – by check. Unfortunately, the lawyer turns out to be crooked and in cahoots with parts of the underworld. Investigators poring over his financial records and bank accounts notice that you made a payment to their suspect (or defendant). This, in turn, may lead to your phone being tapped and your mail intercepted and examined to see if you, too, are a Mafioso.