Though we live in an age where most of our banking can be done digitally, there are some instances when you’ll be asked to provide your bank information using a blank check. And anyone who has ever written out a check knows that it’s possible to make a mistake. When you’re faced with either of these situations, you’re going to want to void the check in question.
Voiding a check makes it unable to be processed or honored by a bank. It provides you with added protection if you need to give someone a check for the purposes of setting up direct deposits to or payments from your account. It gives the company asking for the check what they need and prevents them or anyone who might get their hands on the check from adding information, such as a payee or dollar amount.
In the same vein, if the check you’ve made a mistake on is voided and someone comes across it, they can’t use it to fraudulently withdraw money from your account. Luckily, voiding a check is easy. Here is everything you need to know to void your first check.
How to void a check in 4 steps
1. Choose the right writing tool
You’ll be writing on the check face to void it, and because you want your notations to be permanent, it’s important to choose the right writing tool. You don’t want to use a pencil, as it’s easily erased. A fine-tipped marker or pen is a good choice, preferably in blue or black ink.
2. Write “void” across your check
The easy way to do this is to write “void” in all-capital letters large enough that it covers most of the check. Make sure the routing and account numbers on the bottom of the check are still readable, as well as the name and address of the bank (if included on the check). Alternatively, you could write “void” in the payee, dollar amount line and box, signature line, and dateline.
3. Record which check has been voided
You’ll want to account for what happened to the check so you’re not wondering later if you have an outstanding check that can draw an unexpected amount out of your account. To do this, write down the check number in your check register or software you use to track checks and make a notation that it has been voided. If your bank’s online tools allow you to keep track of your written checks, record it there.
4. Safely send the check
Whenever you give your bank information to someone else, there is always a risk of it falling into the wrong hands — even if it’s only a small risk. If you’re asked for an electronic version or image of your voided check, don’t send it along as an attachment or pasted image in an email. Instead, turn it into an encrypted or password-protected file or create a link to a file in a protected folder. Or better yet, see if you can send a hard-copy through the mail or via fax. That way there’s no electronic record to hack.
Alternatives to voided checks
If you don’t have a check readily available when requested, here are some alternatives you can provide that will have the same information.
- Counter check: Most banks will provide you with a few checks on-demand if you request them from a teller. They won’t have your name or address on them, but the bank name, routing number, and account number will all be there. Follow the steps above to void the check and then submit to whoever has requested it.
- Letter from your bank: You can request a letter from your bank that contains the required information. This should satisfy most requests for a voided check.
- Deposit slip: You can provide one of your deposit slips, which has your bank’s routing number and your account number on it. This can’t be used as a check at all, which makes it a good option.
Embrace a more modern approach to banking
Paper checks are a traditional form of banking. But we live in a modern world with new approaches ways to handle money. Check out these two apps that can help you get your direct deposits faster and without providing voided checks.
Current isn’t a bank, it’s an app that allows you to open and manage a personal checking account the same way a bank would. It works with Choice Financial, an FDIC-insured bank, so you can be sure your money is safe.
One great perk of using Current is that you can set up direct deposit right through the app — no voided check needed. You can also get your paycheck in your account up to 2 days before payday.
With the Earnin app, you can access your paycheck funds when you need them, not just when they hit your bank account. You connect your account to the Earnin app, then provide information about your pay schedule and the amounts you receive for review.
When you’re approved, you’ll be able to request funds as you need them. Once your paycheck is deposited into your linked account, Earnin will withdraw the funds you borrowed. You basically have electronic access to your pay, no voided check required.