If you’re asked to void a check, your response might be “Huh?” Checks are being used less often these days, what with the advent of online banking and shopping. Back in the olden days of pre-internet life, people widely used checks for everything from buying groceries to paying utility bills. But now, an increasing number of people are conducting transactions by card, autopay, or P2P platforms.
Although checks are becoming less common, there are still times when you may need a voided one. But how do you void a check?
Voiding a check is simple. All it takes is to write “VOID” on the face of a blank one with a permanent pen. However, there are some subtleties to the process that it’s wise to understand. Here, you will learn:
• How to void a check
• Reasons for voiding a check
• How voided vs. canceled checks compare
• What to do if you don’t have checks.
How Do You Manually Void a Check?
To manually void a check, all you need is a blank check and a pen. Sure, your personal checkbook may seem like an ancient relic from a bygone era, but there are circumstances when life may request that you open it to void a check.
If you’ve never done it before, here’s how to write a void check:
• Take a blank check from your checkbook.
• Grab a blue or black pen or marker.
• Write “VOID” across the face of the check. Do not cover the account numbers at the bottom.
• Note the check number, recipient, and date in your checkbook so you don’t get confused by a skipped check when you go to balance your funds.
• You could also write “VOID” in the payee line, amount line, amount box, or the signature line. That’s all there is to writing a void check; you’re done.
Reasons for Voiding a Check
There are several reasons why you might need to make a void check. Blank checks in the wrong hands can be financially dangerous. Writing “VOID” across your check renders it useless. A thief will not be able to use it to take money out of your account.
But there are practical uses for voiding a check that go beyond protecting your money, including setting up direct payments or deposits, and automatic bill payments. Here’s a closer look at how voided checks work.
Setting Up Direct Payments
If you or your business needs the ability to pay your vendors electronically, providing a voided blank check may be part of the process in the steps to set that up. The voided check provides your bank’s routing and your account number, which are needed to get ACH funds flowing.
Direct deposits have become the preferred way for employees to quickly get their hard-earned dollars into their checking accounts. Your employer may ask for a voided check along with the paperwork in order to get you enrolled. Again, this voided check allows for the capture of your account details.
Recommended: How to Verify a Check
Regular/Automatic Bill Payments
You can set up monthly autopay payments with utility companies, student loan entities, landlords, and others by providing a voided check. The amount owed will automatically be withdrawn on a set date.
Any Mistakes Made When Writing a Check
If you accidentally write the wrong amount, or make an error in the recipient’s name, you’ll want to void the check and write a new one. Doing so will prevent a person or business from cashing the check.
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Voided vs Canceled Check
You may wonder what the difference between a voided and a canceled check is. When you make a void check, you are canceling a physical check you have in your possession. After all, you can’t write “VOID” on a check you don’t have. If you’ve lost a check (especially a blank one) or have sent out a check in error, that’s a different situation. You can contact your bank about stopping payment on the check.
Worth noting, as it can complicate matters a bit: When banks and credit unions talk about canceled checks, however, they are likely referring to ones that have already been used to transfer funds. The work of these checks is done, so to speak, so they are considered canceled.
The differences between a voided check and a canceled check (in both senses) are:
• You can void a check yourself. To cancel a check, however, a bank or credit union has already been involved.
• Voiding is quick and free. If you seek to cancel a check by stopping payment, it will involve time (to speak to your bank), and there may be a fee charged to stop payment.
• To void a check, all you need is a pen to write the word “VOID.” Typically, banks cancel checks after processing them. If you want to execute a stop payment so a bank doesn’t pay a check, you’ll need your check number, account number, the date you filled it out, and the exact amount of the check.
• When you void a check, you can forget about anyone ever using it. When a check is canceled by a bank, it is no longer valid; it has been paid and no longer has value. However, if you issue a stop payment on a pending check, you may want to keep an eye on your account to make sure no funds were withdrawn as the stop was being initiated.
Recommended: How Travelers Checks Work
What if You Don’t Have Checks?
This discussion about voiding checks may not do you a lot of good if you don’t have any checks. Obviously, the first step to getting a checkbook is to open a new bank account. Many banks will give you pre-printed “starter checks” to use until your personalized ones arrive.
If you already have a checking account but no checks, you can contact your bank or credit union about ordering checks. They can usually be ordered online, via a mobile app, over the phone, or in person.
If you can’t provide a voided check, there are plenty of other ways to set up direct deposits, automatic bill payments, and perform other financial transactions.
Using Deposit Slips
A deposit slip is a check-sized form you can fill out whenever you need to deposit money into your checking or savings account. They are usually found at the back of your checkbook or at a bank.
Since a deposit slip in your checkbook will have your name and account information, you may be able to use the pre-printed slip to authorize auto-pay or direct deposits.
Electronic Images of Checks
In place of an original check, you could print out an image of your check if you have one, void it, and use that instead. When you sign up for checks online, some banking entities can provide an image of your check with your account information.
Submitting Bank Details Online
In this day and age, you usually don’t need a voided check to sign up for automated payments and direct deposits. Most companies offer the option to register for these services online by typing in your checking account and bank routing number.
Asking the Bank for Counter Checks
If you don’t have checks and need one, you can ask your bank for what’s known as a counter check. This is not unlike the temporary “starter checks” you receive when you first open a checking and savings account. You can get a counter check from a teller behind the counter at the bank (thus the name). The counter check will have the bank’s routing number, and either you or the teller will fill in your account information.
Getting Documentation from the Bank
If you can’t get a hold of a check to void, an electronic check image, or a pre-printed deposit slip, a last resort solution could be getting proof of your account from a bank. This should be a letter written on a bank’s letterhead, verifying your routing number, account number, and account type.
In the world of financial transactions, checks may be used less and less these days. But they still have their time and place, and sometimes you need a voided check. It can help you sign up for speedy modern services like autopay and direct deposit. Knowing how to void a check is a good skill to have, and it’s part of becoming a savvy financial customer.
At SoFi, we are all about helping you bank smarter. Open our Checking and Savings with direct deposit, and you’ll receive free paper checks. Plus, your money will grow faster with our competitive APY and no account fees.
How do I void a blank check?
To void a blank check, take a blue or black pen or marker and write “VOID” across the face of the check. You could also write “VOID” in the payee line, amount line, amount box, or the signature line.
How do I void a check for direct deposit?
You void a check for direct deposit by writing “VOID” across the face of the check with a blue or black pen or marker. Or you could fill that in on the payee line, amount line, amount box, or the signature line.
How do I void a check I’ve already sent?
You can’t void a check you have already sent. You’ll have to cancel the check. To do this, first make sure the check hasn’t cleared yet. Then, make sure you have your account number, check number, dollar amount, and date you wrote on the check. Contact your bank or credit union to stop payment. This action may require a fee.
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