These days, paper checks are being used less and less. With the rise of credit cards, bank apps, and digital wallets, checks are starting to become one of the more outdated forms of cashless payments.
So, for those who have never had a checking account until just fairly recently, you may not be sure about the concept of voided checks or how to void a check for your convenience and safety.
Here’s what you need to do to void a check.
What Is a Voided Check?
Simply put, a voided check is one where you write the word “VOID” across the front. This can be one large “VOID” across the whole check, or multiple “VOID”s on every line of the check. This is to ensure that the check cannot be used to take money out of the account.
One of the biggest risks of owning a checking account is that it can be forged if a thief gets their hands on a blank check. Let’s say that, through ways and means, a thief gets a blank check out of your checkbook. They can find a way to forge your signature, make the check out to themselves, and write any amount of money they hope to steal from your account.
Voiding your check can prevent possible theft. By doing so, you’re making it impossible for your check to be filled up and used, as the word “VOID” written visibly on the check will alert the bank teller that this check was not intended to be cashed in.
When Do I Need Voided Checks?
In some instances, you will need to provide some people or organizations with a blank check. This is because they need to know details like your bank or credit union, your bank account number, and your routing number. In these cases, they will ask for a voided check so that they have a quick way to set up an electronic link to your bank account.
Some instances where you will need to write a void check include:
- Your employer asking for a voided check so they have your banking information and can do direct deposits. Why you need a check for direct deposits is because handing a voided check is much more convenient and leaves less room for error compared to writing down your account number on a piece of paper.
- If you pay rent using your checking account, you can set up payment so that rent will automatically be deducted each month. This saves you the hassle of writing a check every month.
- You made a mistake writing your check and want to protect yourself by rendering that check unusable. You can either destroy the check or void it. Do not throw away a partially-filled check intact or leave it lying around.
In some instances, you might trust the person you are giving a blank check to, but it’s much better to take no chances and void your check before giving it out. This person may have no reason to steal from you, but there’s a chance they might not dispose of the check properly and it could fall into the wrong hands. It’s better to be safe than sorry and void any blank check.
How to Void a Check
Voiding a check is simple. If you’re voiding a check for direct deposit or for the purpose of giving your checking account information to someone, here’s what to do.
- Get a permanent marker. Some people use regular pens, but this can be easy to cover up. To be safe, use a thick black marker – it will be impossible for thieves to conceal this.
- Write “VOID” over the check. Some will recommend writing it on overlines, but to save time and to make the obvious voiding, write one large VOID so that it covers all the lines of the check. Be careful not to cover up the banking info needed as it cancels out the point of giving a voided check.
- Register Your Check. At the front of your checkbook, there should be a place where you can list down all the checks you’ve used (using the check number), how much you’ve paid, and who it went to. If you don’t have it, it’s prudent to have a record to know where your checks went. Register your voided check on the list, indicate that it was voided, and who you are sending the check to.
If you’re voiding a check simply because you’ve made a mistake, it may be more secure to simply dispose of the check properly. You can burn the check, shred them, or tear it to small pieces. Make sure sensitive information like your name and account number cannot be recovered from the remains.
As an added layer of protection, do not throw the torn pieces all at once in the same garbage bin; dispose of the check in different bags on different days.
Alternatives to a Voided Check
As long as you use an indelible marker to void your check, voiding a check for direct deposit or any other purpose should be safe. But if you don’t feel comfortable voiding a check or do not have a check to void, here are other alternatives.
- Get a counter check. This is a check you can ask for the bank to print on request. However, the bank will charge a fee for this.
- Get a preprinted deposit slip. Sometimes a deposit slip will have all the information necessary to link your account. Ask your employer (or whoever is asking for a voided check) to see if this is acceptable.
- Letter from the bank. Ask the bank to prepare a letter endorsing all your bank information. If you’re not using a voided check, having bank employees list down your bank information should be just as accurate.
- An image of a (voided) check. You don’t need to provide the actual check. If the only important part of the check that matters is the banking information, a photo may suffice.
- Send your information online. To avoid having to send out a voided check, you can simply link external accounts online.
Tips for Keeping Your Checking Account Safe
Aside from the risk of blank checks, here are other ways to keeping your checking account safe.
- Place your checkbook in a safe place. Guests in your home may be able to write themselves a check, while robbers can take your checkbook and use it to create blank checks.
- Record your checks. It can be easy to forget your spending, and this could lead to unauthorized cash-ins you may not notice. When writing checks, always list down the check number, how much you wrote down, and who received the check.
- Use checks only when necessary. Checks are still a useful mode of payment to have, but in this digital age, there are plenty of other ways to pay. As much as possible, use your checks only when necessary.
- Secure your checks’ transport. Never leave your checks unguarded or in an area where it can be stolen. If you’re going to mail a check, bring it directly to the post office or your nearest mailbox.
- Do not write additional information. Only write the information needed on the check. Only write information like your phone number, birthday, and address if a merchant asks for it.
- Avoid making your checks out to “Cash”. It’s easy for a check to be stolen when it is made out to cash. As much as possible, indicate the name of the person receiving the checks to avoid theft.
Should I Still Have a Checkbook?
All modes of payment have some amount of security risk. Although checkbooks are not as popular as they were, they are still a useful thing to have in personal finance management. So, if your area’s mode of payments still accepts checks, it may be the better option as long as it’s the only choice to have.
So, if you ever come to a situation where you need to void a check, you know what to do. You have to make sure that your check is undoubtedly voided to ensure no thief can try to claim your check and use it for their gain. Use a dark marker and make sure there is no room for clearing out your void.
It’s necessary if you’re giving a voided check for direct deposit, but for checks with errors, it’s safer to just properly dispose of the check altogether.