While many people have switched to using debit cards instead of paper checks, there are times when you may still need a check. There are also instances when a company requests a voided check, or when you wish to have a check voided for your own purposes.
Rather than figuring out the process as it comes up, learn everything you need to know about voiding a check now so that you’re fully prepared in the future.
What is a voided check?
A voided check is easy to recognize. It has the word VOID written on it. It may or may not have other information filled in throughout the check. The text should be clearly seen, but it doesn’t cover up any other writing beneath it.
Once a check has been voided, it’s no longer usable as a form of tender. No matter who the check was written out to or how much it might be written for, the check can no longer be presented to a bank or credit union for payment.
What is the purpose of voiding a check?
When a person voids a check, it can no longer be used. It is disabled as a form of payment. Even if the check has been made out to an individual, store, or other institution, it can no longer be used. And if the check is blank, the fields can no longer be filled out and used as payment.
The person who receives a voided check cannot fill in the amount and other details and present it to a bank. It also prevents a thief from taking the check, filling out an amount, and forging your signature to debit funds from your bank account.
When do you need to void a check?
There may be several instances when someone could ask you to void a check. The most common use is for a company to use it in setting up direct deposit.
The information on the check is still valid and tells the person or business several important pieces of information, including the following:
- Your name and address
- Other personal information, such as phone number or driver’s license number
- Bank institution name
- Bank routing number
- Bank account number
- Check number
This information is most often used to set up an electronic link to your bank account. For example, you can provide a voided check to a person or company. They will then take that information and request an authorized withdrawal or payment to your checking account. Here are some common scenarios for which you’ll need a voided check.
One of the most routine instances of voiding a check is for setting up direct deposit with your employer. The company may ask for a voided check to enter your bank account information (routing number and account number) in its system to set up direct deposit for your paycheck.
Direct deposit eliminates the need for you to receive a paper paycheck and often allows the money to be deposited into your bank account faster. Many companies allow you to fill out a direct deposit authorization form. However, some still require a voided check for direct deposits.
Automatic Electronic Payments
You can also use a voided check to set up automatic payments to come out of your bank account automatically.
This may include rent, mortgage payments, utility payments, or other recurring bills. In addition, a voided check takes away the hassle of sending in payments or setting up an online payment each month because it automatically comes out on the specified date.
Mistakes on Checks
A third instance of using a voided check is when you make a mistake while writing a check. For example, you may put in the wrong name or incorrect amount or make another mistake that renders the check impossible to use.
In this instance, you can write the word ‘VOID’ on top of anything else you’ve written to prevent someone from using that check.
For example, you may intend to write out a check for the amount of $50, but you accidentally add an extra zero, making it $500. You don’t want that check to accidentally get processed for the wrong amount, so you void it out.
Some mistakes can simply be marked with a line through the incorrect information and initialed. But, it’s not always a safe practice. Some businesses won’t accept a correction, and it’s not always safe to do so.
The check could still be run through the bank’s system for the incorrect amount, and you wouldn’t notice it until it came back to your bank. Or, it may not be accepted by the recipient’s bank at all, causing the check to bounce.
Keeping a partially written check around without being voided is risky because it could be stolen. Therefore, it’s always best to write the word VOID on any check that can no longer be used.
How to Void a Check
If someone requests a voided check from you, it’s easy to take care of. Simply use a blank check and write ‘VOID’ in large letters across the front. Then, use a pen with black ink and make the word large enough to be read.
Also, ensure it’s written across the entire check, but don’t write over the information at the bottom of the check since it includes important banking information.
However, you want to make sure the word is clearly seen so that thieves can’t write in any information and cover up the word. You don’t need to sign the check or add any other information when you’re voiding it. Next, list the check in your check register so that you don’t forget where it went.
If you don’t have a voided check to supply to a third party, you do have other options to get one. You can ask your bank for a blank check, which is known as a counter check. Many times, this won’t have your personal information written on top, but it will include your banking information.
Not all companies will take a counter check, so make sure you find out if it’s acceptable. You may also be able to use a deposit slip with your bank information on it.
Another less common way to void a check is by writing ‘VOID’ in three places: the signature line, payment box, and in the “pay to the order of” section of the check.
Voided checks may not be as popular as they once were, but it’s still important to know how to void a check, what they look like, and what their purpose is. Always remember to keep track of any checks you void out to prevent identity theft or fraud.