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Banking Basics

How To Void a Check the Right Way

By taking the right steps to void a check, you can help keep your bank information and money safe. Learn more about how to properly void a check.

Emily Clemens • April 22, 2021

Voiding a check helps ensure others can’t cash or deposit money from your account. Because checks have important bank information on them, it’s important to make sure they’re voided correctly when you don’t want them being used. 

In This Article

  1. Steps to Voiding a Check
  2. Why Would I Need to Void a Check?
  3. How Do I Dispose of Old Checks?
  4. How Many People Still Use Checks?
  5. Setting Up Direct Deposit Without a Voided Check

Steps to Voiding a Check

Voiding a check is simple and only requires a pen or marker, and the check you’d like to void. To void a check, you should: 

  • Use a blue or black pen or marker that cannot be erased
  • Write “VOID” in large letters across the front of the check 
  • Cover as much of the check as possible with your writing 
  • Keep record of the voided check by noting the check number
  • Determine if you should make a copy of the voided check for future use

If you are using a voided check to set up direct deposit or automatic bill payments, make sure the account number and routing number are still visible. The person using your voided check will need that information to connect your bank account. 

If you keep a check register, make note of which checks you void. Each check is numbered to help you keep track of each transaction. 

Why Would I Need to Void a Check?

There are several reasons why you might need to void a check. You may want to make sure no one else uses it, or, you may need to present a voided check for someone to access and confirm your banking information. 

 

You Made a Mistake or You Already Used It

You should void a check if you make a mistake. You may have written down the wrong amount, addressed it to the wrong person or dated the check incorrectly. This will keep others from using the check.

A lot of banking apps now offer mobile check deposits. This means you can snap a picture of your paper check and deposit it into your account, right from your phone. Many checks have a checkbox to mark off after mobile deposit. However, you should also void the check after it has already been deposited to keep others from trying to use it if it gets lost or stolen. 

 

You’re Setting Up a Payment Account

Some financial institutions require you to provide a voided check to process your banking information. You may need to present a voided check to: 

  • Set up a direct deposit
  • Set up automatic bill payments 
  • Set up automatic loan payments 
  • Confirm banking information
  • Keep record of transactions

If you’re setting up multiple direct deposits or billing accounts, it may be helpful to create a copy of your voided check. Then, you don’t have to keep pulling checks from your checkbook. 

 

To Help Combat Check Fraud

Voiding a check that should not be in use can also help prevent check fraud. Check fraud can be several different illegal activities. Examples include stealing checks, altering checks and signing someone else’s name. 

By voiding a check, it can no longer be used as payment or to withdraw money. That way, you’re helping protect yourself if your check falls into the wrong hands. 

 

How Do I Dispose of Old Checks?

If you want to get rid of a voided check, the safest method is to shred it. If you don’t have a paper shredder, you can use scissors to cut up the check. Make sure you cut directly through your name, account number, signature and other important details. 

If you’re unable to or don’t want to dispose of your own checks, many banks will do it for you. 

How Many People Still Use Checks?

With the rise of online and mobile banking, paper checks aren’t as common as they once were. However, they are still in use. Only people with a checking account have access to checks. In 2018, 90% of consumers in the U.S. had a checking account. According to a recent Federal Reserve Payments study:

  • 61% of consumers said they’ve used a paper check at least once (2018).  
  • 14% of consumers said they preferred checks for bill payments (2017).
  • 2% of consumers said they preferred checks for purchases (2017). 

From 2000 to 2018, check payments have declined by about 1/3. With this drop, less people know how to fill out checks, use them and get rid of them. If you decide to use a check, make sure you know the proper way to void it and get rid of it to ensure you, and your money, is safe. 

Setting Up Direct Deposit Without a Voided Check

If you don’t have a voided check, there are other ways you may be able to set up direct deposit. 

  • Ask your bank if they can print you a voided check (there may be a small fee)
  • See if your bank has pre-filled direct deposit forms available for you to use instead 
  • Look into a direct deposit authorization form through your employer
  • Check if your employer would accept a deposit slip or photocopy of a check

Requirements often vary depending on the workplace. Some companies may require a voided check to set up direct deposit, while others may be able to work with you to find other alternatives. The main goal is to ensure your paychecks are going to the correct account. 

 

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