Services: Checking the Bouncers

Armed with blank check, ballpoint pen and driver's license for identification, almost any American can cash a check at his friendly neighborhood supermarket or liquor store. This shirtsleeves casualness about money has ballooned bad-check losses in the U.S. to an estimated $1 billion a year. But bum-check pushers may shortly find their livelihood threatened by automation. In Los Angeles, a pair of science-minded entrepreneurs are using a digital computer to blot out what J. Edgar Hoover calls "fountain-pen bandits."

An IBM Ramac 305 computer is the soul of a profitable, year-old company called Telecredit, Inc., bossed by Chairman Robert Goldman,...

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