With the recent spread of online payments, physical checks have become less common. A recent survey by ConsumerAction revealed that about 55% of Americans prefer paying their bills online. Paychecks are getting rarer, too. The 2018 National Payroll Report reported that 93% of the US employees receive payments as direct deposits. Nevertheless, knowing how to void a check is still a crucial skill to learn. In addition to nullifying wrong checks, voided checks may be needed to set up electronic payments or direct deposits. Without any further ado, let’s get right into it!
How to Void a Check That You Still Have
If you haven’t handed out your check yet, voiding it would be absolutely easy.
Step 1: Get a Pen
It stands to reason that you shouldn’t use a pencil to void a check. If you handed it out to the wrong people, they can simply erase your voiding to issue the written sum.
Get a blue or black marker that has a thick tip. Make sure that its ink is clear enough that no one can obscure it in any way.
Step 2: Write “VOID” Across All the Lines
You can write a gigantic “VOID” that traverses the whole check if you want to save your time.
Some people, however, like to follow a more meticulous approach that provides a higher sense of safety. In small, uppercase letters, write “VOID” across the following areas:
- Payee line
- Date line
- Amount line
- Signature line
- Amount box
Writing multiple “VOIDs” would make it a lot harder for scammers to make the check valid again.
Step 3: Keep a Record
By now, you can safely hand out the voided check without worrying about complications.
However, if you want to steer clear of any possible confusion or legal responsibility, you should photocopy the voided check.
Also, write the check number into your check register or book if you have one. Leave a brief memo about the voiding reason just in case you needed to review it later.
Also Read: How To Fill Out a Check
How to Void a Check That You’ve Already Sent
If you’ve just realized that you’ve written the wrong sum, date, payee, or account number, you’ll need to act ASAP — every minute counts.
Step 1: Prepare the Required Information
In order for your bank to take action, you must provide some essential information. Each bank may require different details, but the following are the most common.
- The check number
- The written sum
- The issue date
- The payee, whether an individual or an organization
- The voiding reason (wrong amount, wrong payee, etc)
Step 2: Phone Your Bank
Call the customer service of your bank and ask for a “Stop Payment” order. As the name implies, this order will tell the bank system to automatically decline the specified check whenever someone tries to issue it.
If you were quick enough, the money won’t be debited from your account. However, the bank will probably charge you for this urgent service.
Sometimes the customer service line might have a large queue of calling customers. It goes without saying that you must not be put on hold, not even for a minute. If this happens, proceed to the next step.
Step 3: Void It Online
Lucky for us, most of the banks have revamped their websites to allow their users to carry on with almost any service online.
You’ll have to search for the same order I mentioned earlier: “Stop Payment”. Enter your check details as fast as possible, and confirm your request.
After completing the online order, it’d be wise to double-check through the phone. Call to verify that the order was placed successfully, and to ask whether the check was already debited or not.
How to Void a Check for Direct Deposit
Your employer might require a voided check to set up a direct deposit for your paycheck.
In that case, you’ll have to apply the same steps mentioned in the first section. Don’t fill any of the check lines. Just write a large “VOID” with a black or blue marker and you’ll be ready to go.
Make sure you don’t obscure your routing and account numbers, though. Since your employer needs them to wire the money, covering them would defy the whole point of the check.
In addition to the voided check, you might be required to fill a direct deposit authorization form. Check with your employer for more details on this matter.
Are There Any Alternatives?
Frankly, I’d be surprised if a Gen Z’er knows what a checkbook is, let alone has one! If this applies to you, you can request a direct deposit without getting a checkbook.
Go to your bank, and ask for a deposit slip. This document is typically used whenever someone wants to deposit money into an account. If it has the routing and account numbers, it can replace a voided check.
If your bank doesn’t offer deposit slips, ask for a starter check. Unlike checkbooks, starter checks are printed instantly at a teller. You’ll need to void it just as you would do with a typical check.
No starter checks either? Well, in this case, your bank should provide an official letter denoting your routing and account numbers. You don’t need to do any additional steps with such a report — just send it as-is alongside any required files.
You May Not Need to Void a Check
Wouldn’t it be absurd if you have to fill paper forms for every bill you want to pay? Today, most organizations can receive your banking details via online forms. Reach out to them and ask about this service before you start hassling with traditional checks.
To Sum Up
Knowing how to void a check isn’t rocket science! All you have to do is write a large “VOID” across the whole check, or small “VOIDs” over every line.
If you already handed out the check to the payee, immediately contact your bank. If you’re put on hold, check their online website as you wait — they might be offering that service online.