While many people have switched to using debit cards instead of checks, there are times when checks may still be needed. 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 voided check now so that you’re fully prepared in the future.
Table of Contents
What is a voided check?
A voided check is easy to recognize. It has the word VOID written in large letters across the front of the paper. 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.
A voided check is also one that is 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 or any other circumstances involved, the check can no longer be presented to a bank for payment.
What is the purpose of a voided 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 the 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 and filling out an amount and forging your signature to debit funds from your account.
When do you need a voided check?
There may be several instances when someone could ask for a voided check. The most common use is for a company to use it in setting up automatic payments. 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. You can submit a voided check to a person or company, and they will take that information and request an authorized withdrawal or payment to your account. Here are some common scenarios for which you’ll need a voided check.
One of the most routine instances for using a voided check is with your employer. The company uses the voided check to enter your bank account information in its system in order to set up automatic payments for your paycheck. This eliminates the need for you to receive a paper paycheck and often allows the money to be placed in your personal bank account faster.
Another time when a voided check is requested is when you set up regular payments to come out of your bank account automatically. This may include rent, mortgage payments, utility payments, or other recurring bills. It 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 for using a voided check is when you make a mistake while writing a check. 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 in 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.
While some mistakes can simply be marked with a line through the incorrect information and initialed, 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. It’s always best to write the word VOID on any check that is no longer able to be used.
How can you get a voided check?
If someone requests a voided check from you, it’s easy to take care of. Simply use a blank check and write the word VOID in large letters across the front. Use a pen with black ink and make the word large enough to be read. Also, make sure 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 do want to make sure the word is clearly seen so that thieves can’t write in any information and cover up the word. Don’t sign the check or add in 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 check you can void 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 option if you don’t have checks is to find out if you can get a letter from your bank providing your bank account information. The bank would include your account number and other personal information that would normally be found on the check.
How is a voided check used?
When a company receives your voided check, they will enter your information into their system, including your bank, account number, routing number, and sometimes the check number to ensure it matches what is on your check.
The check number is only used when you are making a single payment that you want to correspond to the actual check. Once the information is input, the company should shred your check so that no one can use it to steal your information.
A voided check is helpful is because it limits the chance of error on either your part or that of the company. Providing the information verbally allows for the chance that you could either say something incorrect or the other party could misunderstand what you tell them. If the information is copied incorrectly, the payment will not be processed, whether it’s a debit or a deposit.
How can a voided check be replaced?
The need for voided checks is diminishing with the increase of online payments. More companies allow payments over the Internet, which enables you to type in the necessary information as an electronic check.
These sites walk you through the process, explaining what information is needed and where it may be found on the check. This ensures you can provide accurate information without needing to present the actual voided check to the company.
Electronic payments are not foolproof because you can accidentally type in the wrong information. This issue can also happen if the person inputs the wrong numbers from your voided check. It’s a good idea to find out when the payment will be coming in or taken out of your bank account for the first time.
If no transaction occurs, contact the company to ensure they have your correct information. Remember that you are responsible for any payments to be made, and you may have to pay any late fees if the payment doesn’t process on time.
Voided checks may not be as popular as they once were, but they still have a place in many financial transactions. Know what one looks like, what it can and can’t do, and how to protect your financial accounts with the use of a voided check.
Make sure you keep track of any checks you void out to prevent identity theft or fraud. As with all forms of payment, a voided check should be handled responsibly for your protection.