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Target Says Time’s Up For Paying With Paper Checks

Target, checkout, retail, payment methods

Paying with paper checks at Target will soon be a thing of the past.

The retailer said it will stop accepting personal checks at its stores later this month, according to a recent report by the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.

“Target is committed to creating an easy and convenient checkout experience, and that includes providing our guests with numerous ways to pay, including our new Target Circle Cards (formerly known as Target RedCard); cash; digital wallets; SNAP/EBT; buy now, pay later services; and credit and debit cards,” said Target company spokesman Brian Harper-Tibaldo in an email, according to the Star-Tribune.

“Due to extremely low volumes, we’ll no longer accept personal checks starting July 15. We have taken several measures to notify guests in advance to aid an easy and efficient checkout experience,” Harper-Tibaldo added.

According to the report, customers can still send checks through the mail to cover their Target Circle Card credit balance. The news outlet noted that Whole Foods and Aldi also do not accept paper checks. Retailers who continue to honor them include Best Buy.

The report also cited Federal Reserve data showing a sharp drop in check usage in recent years. Checks made up roughly half of non-cash payments in the United States in 2003, but that figure had dropped to 15% by 2012. The Fed’s most recent payment choice report showed that out of the average 46 monthly payments consumers made last year, just one was via check.

Beyond consumer use, checks continue to serve as the preferred payment method for many organizations, in spite of digital alternatives.

Research by PYMNTS Intelligence underscores this trend, showing that checks account for a significant portion of business-to-business (B2B) transactions across various industries. For example, nearly 21% of B2B transactions in the real estate world involve checks, while retailers use checks for 15.2% of their B2B payments.

In the construction sector, a little more than three-quarters of subcontractors get payments primarily via paper checks, further spotlighting the ongoing popularity of checks in commercial transactions, regardless of their inherent drawbacks in terms of speed and security.

Then there’s the thread of fraud, with criminals continuously adapting their tactics, from check washing to counterfeiting, seeking vulnerabilities in traditional payment systems.

As noted here last September, “the manual nature of paper checks introduces a higher risk of errors that can damage relationships with vendors, suppliers and even employees. Not only that, but their physical characteristics are an attractive attack vector for fraudsters, and they can be easily lost or stolen in transit.”