What You Can Learn From Bank Account Numbers and Statements

Knowing a bank account number helps you learn about the bank.
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The various numbers and symbols that appear on checks, debit cards and bank statements aren't just random strings of characters -- most of these numbers contain an embedded logic that, once you understand it, can help you identify information about the issuing bank including its registered address and telephone number. Although account numbers, routing numbers and sort codes may be obtained from a variety of sources, including a bank teller or website, these numbers will always appear on paper checks.

How to Locate a Bank by the Routing Number

Some bank statements optionally include a routing number, but every check must include a routing number. These nine-digit identifiers -- printed in magnetic ink on the bottom of the check -- appear between symbols that look like a short vertical bar followed by two dots: |:012345678|:

With this routing number, use an online database like the FedACH routing-number directory maintained by Federal Reserve Financial Services to obtain more data about the financial institution. This database will present the bank name, mailing address, phone number and associated information used for interbank transfers.

Routing numbers are also called RTNs, or routing and transit numbers.

How to Find My Bank Account Number

Bank account numbers are always printed on the bottom of a check, in magnetic ink. The account number doesn't have a fixed character length, so it could be as few as five characters or as many as a dozen or more. For personal checks, the account number follows the routing number and precedes the check number.

Thus, the account number appears between the second routing-number delimiter, a character that looks like a little bar followed by a heavy colon, and the character that looks like two thin bars with a heavy upper dot.

How to Find My Bank Account Sort Code

Sort codes are used in the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland; they serve a similar purpose to the routing numbers used in the United States. A sort code is always a six-digit number that appears on a check. Customers with an 18-digit debit card will see their sort code by looking at the six characters immediately following the initial group of four characters — the digits in positions six through 10 on the front of the card.

What Does POS Mean on a Bank Statement?

Itemized bank statements sometimes present transactions in abbreviated format to save space. A statement with the term "POS" means that a transaction was made at the "point of service" with a manual swipe of a debit card. A POS transaction immediately hits an account; it differs from other forms of card capture that may obtain an authorization and place a hold on your account but don't actually present the charge to your bank until a batch cycle, usually nightly, completes.

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