Voided Check – What is a Void Check? How to Properly Void a Check (2020 Guide)
What is a Voided Check
A voided check is a check that has the word “VOID” written across the front. The check can be blank or partially filled in. The word VOID indicates that the check is no longer valid and should not be accepted for payment. However, a voided check is still useful as a source of information when setting up electronic payments. Voiding a check is intended to render it invalid so that it cannot be filled in for unauthorized use. Unlike a blank check, if someone comes across a voided check, they can’t just fill it out and try to cash it.
There are instances where a voided check proves useful. You may be asked to provide one to your employer to set up automatic deposits. Or, one may be required for investments from your bank account or to set up automatic bill payments. This is because your bank account information appears on those checks. Whoever requested the voided check will use those details to set up the electronic link to your bank account. If you have never voided a check before, no worries. It is simple to do. Yet, it is an important step to take to protect yourself from unauthorized use once the check has served its purpose.
- A voided check can be useful for setting up direct deposits, automated bill payments, or pre-scheduled electronic transfers.
- Voiding a check renders it invalid. It can no longer be used to make a payment or otherwise withdraw money from your checking account.
- The process for voiding a check is very simple.
- Voided checks are not your only option. There are other methods available for you to set up direct deposit or electronic payments aside from voiding a check.
Why Do Employers Ask for a Voided Check?
Each U.S. bank has an individual routing number and all deposit accounts have account numbers attached to them. As a result, employers ask for a voided check because both the account number and routing number are printed on the face of each check. They can use the information printed on the check to set up direct deposit without worrying about getting the numbers wrong. This lets all parties involved feel more secure that money will not accidently go to a wrong account.
- Routing numbers identify specific financial institutions. Each bank has its own number. A routing number indicates not only the financial institution, but also the geographic region of the country where the bank is located. Two different banks cannot have the same routing number.
- Account numbers identify specific individual accounts at those financial institutions. No two accounts at the same bank will have the same account number. So, a routing number and an account number used together will ensure your paycheck will end up in the correct bank and account.
Getting the numbers right
In theory, you should be able to just provide a routing number and account number to your payroll department. You could provide these two numbers written on a piece of paper. The voided check isn’t essential, it just happens to have both numbers printed on it. Using the voided check is just an extra step to insure no mistakes are made in writing down all the numbers. It also provides a record for your employer to refer to if an error ever occured transfering your funds. Your employer only requires your specific bank account number and the bank’s routing number – however you provide them. Your employer’s payroll system will uthen se the bank’s routing number to direct your paycheck to the proper bank. It will also provide your account number so the bank can deposit the money into your account.
So long as they copy that information properly, they’ll be able to make the deposit. Still, many companies require that you provide a voided check. Your company will place the voided check in your file so that it can be referenced in the future if necessary. For example, if your company changes payroll processors, it may need to provide everyone’s routing and account numbers to the new processor. Having the voided check on-hand also reduces the likelihood of payroll using the wrong information when it sends out paychecks since they have the check on-hand to reference. (Source: mybanktracker.com)
How to Void a Check to use to set up a Direct Deposit
Never give someone a blank check, even your employer. If lost or stolen, someone can fill it out and withdraw money from your bank account. So, always treat checks like cash. This is why employers ask for a voided check to set up direct deposit, not a blank one. To make a voided check you can:
- Write VOID in big letters across the entire face of the check.
- Or, write VOID in the:
- date line
- payee line
- amount box
- amount line
- signature line.
Use a pen with permanent ink to write VOID – never use pencil. You want the VOID to be obvious and permanent. After you void the check, make a note and record the voided check number in your check register. This will help you remember that the check was voided and you’re not waiting for it to clear your account. If that check number is ever posted to your account, contact your bank right away. Make sure your VOID marks are easily seen and cannot be missed, erased, or written over.
Write the word “VOID” across the front of the check-in large letters. Make the letters tall enough and wide enough to cover most of the check. But don’t cover the numbers at the bottom of your check—the recipient needs those numbers to establish the link with your bank account. Use a pen or a fine-tipped marker so that nobody can erase the word “VOID.” Writing “VOID” across the front of the check prevents anybody from using the check to make a standard check payment (by filling in a payee and an amount). If a thief gets their hands on the check, they won’t have a blank check, which they could use to spend your money—effectively stealing from your account. (Source: thebalance.com)
Do Voided Checks Serve any Other Purpose?
A voided check is a way to give your banking information for a legitimate purpose with a record for both parties. It is more accurate than copying your bank’s routing number and your account number from the bottom of your check. Even filling the information onto a form creates the possibly making a mistake. Especially when you can provide a voided check that already has that information printed on it. The information on a voided check is usually used to set up an electronic transaction for your bank account. You might use a voided check to:
- Direct Deposit Salary – Authorize your employer to direct deposit your salary or wages.
- Direct Deposit expenses – Authorize your employer to direct deposit your expense reimbursements.
- Automate Bill Payment – Set up automated bill payments (e.g., utilities, credit cards).
- Enable Government Benefits – Authorize a government agency to direct deposit your benefit checks.
- Automate Loan Payments – Set up automated loan payments (e.g., mortgage, student loan).
- Enable Auto-pay – Automated payments are sometimes referred to as auto-pay. This is when recurring payments are automatically withdrawn from your account.
When to Use a Voided Check
A voided check is most often used to provide banking information so that somebody can set up an electronic link with your bank account. A voided check works well because it has several important details about you and your bank printed on it:
- Bank Name – Where you bank (or which credit union you use)
- Your Name – most people have their name printed on the face of the check for ID purposes
- Account Number – Your bank account number
- Bank Routing Number – A code that identifies your bank called a routing number
If you have to provide a voided check, you can just detach a check from your checkbook and write “VOID” on it. The word “VOID” doesn’t have to cover the entire check. However, it should be noticeable and dark enough so that the check cannot be used again for any other purpose. Be careful not to write over any of the banking numbers and information printed at the bottom of the check.
Common Reasons for Voiding Checks
- Direct deposit: if your employer pays you electronically, they’ll need your account information to get the money to the right place. You won’t need to wait on paper paychecks anymore, and you won’t need to deposit checks once you get them. Sometimes the funds even hit your account a few days early. You’ll still probably get a paper pay stub, or at least have the option to print one online if needed.
- Setting up payments: if you want to stop writing checks for expenses like rent, mortgage, and insurance, you might need to provide a voided check to set up automatic electronic payments. You won’t have to get your checkbook out and mail the payment on time – or even log in to your bank’s online bill payment system. Depending on how you set things up, the funds will be deducted from your account automatically each month (if you sign an agreement authorizing automatic payments), or you’ll have to set up each payment yourself.
- Mistakes: if you make an error while filling out a check, void or destroy the check. You’re not going to use it for anything, and a partially filled-out check is risky to keep around. You can also write “VOID” on a check if you made a mistake filling it out but don’t want to throw it away or shred it. This type of voided check can be useful for record-keeping. Since checks are sequentially numbered, if you destroy a check rather than mark it “VOID,” you later might not remember that you didn’t use that check. (Source: money.usnews.com)
Authorize Government Benefits Payments.
A government agency can direct deposit your benefits if you authorize them to do so. Much like with a direct deposit paycheck, you can set up direct deposit and have your benefit payments sent to your bank account electronically. For federal benefits, there’s no extra charge for direct deposits. You can even choose to have your tax refund sent by direct deposit.
Set up automated loan payments
Many times, you’ll need a voided check to set up automated loan payments such as a mortgage payment, student loan, or auto loan. Often you can earn a better rate by using automatic payments, so it may be worth the extra effort of setting up autopay and sending a copy of a voided check.
Where to Get a Voided Check
Voiding a check is very simple. Just use the next check out of your checkbook, and write VOID across the front in large letters. Write with noticeable letters that are tall and wide enough to cover the whole face of the check. But, don’t cover the banking information printed at the bottom. It is the banking information that makes the voided check useful. Your employer will want to keep the check for their records. The purpose for voiding the check is to make it difficult for anyone to erase or cover your void mark. If your check is ever misplaced or falls into the wrong hands, you don’t want them to be able try to fill it out for payment.
Don’t sign the check or enter any other information. Make a note in your check register so that you know where the check went. If you don’t have a check to void in your possession, there are several other options, including:
- Counter check – Ask your bank for a counter check
- Deposit slip – See if a preprinted deposit slip (for a checking or savings account) is acceptable
- Bank authorization letter – See if a letter from your bank is acceptable
- Write the information – Provide the account number and routing number on a piece of paper
Alternatives to a Voided Check
In many cases, a voided check will be the easiest way to authorize direct deposits or auto-pay. But what if you don’t have a supply of paper checks or you don’t want to sacrifice one to be voided? In that case, you’ll have to figure out an alternative. Instead of a voided check, you might be able to provide:
- A direct deposit authorization form. When you complete this type of form, be very careful not to make any mistakes when you fill in your bank’s routing number and your account number.
- A voided counter check. A counter check is a blank paper check similar to the temporary or starter checks that you might have received when you opened your account. If your bank or credit union offers counter checks, you can request one from a teller at any of the branch locations. Counter checks get their name from the teller’s window, or counter.
- A deposit slip with your banking information preprinted on it. Your supply of checks might include some printed deposit slips bound into the stack under the checks.
- A photocopy of a check or deposit slip for your account.
Which of these options you’ll be able to use depends on what your bank or credit union offers, what your recipient requires and your personal preference. (Source: money.usnews.com)
Is a Piece of Paper Always Required?
When you provide a voided check, the recipient copies your banking information from the check and enters it into their systems. Ideally, they’ll then shred the check so that nobody else can get their hands on that information. However, many companies keep your check as a record that you provided the information and it was correctly used. But, most companies don’t need an original. A copy of a voided check is good enough. If somebody asks for a copy of a voided check, a standard photocopy, or even a photo from your phone will be good enough. Presumably, companies ask for a printed document because:
- Error – It reduces the chances of error – that you’ll provide the wrong information
- Fraud – It reduces the chances of fraud – if you have a check, it must be your account (if you’re going to send money out of that account)
- Record keeping – It provides a permanent record that you voluntarily provided the necessary information
However, with the growth of online banking, consumers often provide their own routing and account numbers online without any problem. Voided checks are just a traditional way of providing that same information. Online banks allow you to link external accounts by typing in those details yourself. Many companies also accept payments by e-check when customers input their checking account information. Some businesses even take payments over the phone, allowing buyers to provide the information verbally. So, it appears that voided checks are requested out of habit, but are not really essential in providing the necessary banking information.
Direct deposit is incredibly convenient, once you have it set up. You won’t have to worry about losing a check or wasting time cashing it or depositing it. Instead, just go about your life as money constantly arrives in your checking account. To make things even better, direct deposit doubles as a great way to automate savings. Set up automatic deposits from your paycheck to savings accounts. Your savings will be separate from your spending cash so you won’t be tempted to spend it, and the balances will grow with each paycheck. Though it may take some effort, the benefits of setting up direct deposit make it worth doing. (Source: mybanktracker.com)
Nevertheless, requests for voided checks are still common from employers, payment services, and government agencies. However, keep your own security in mind when sharing banking information. If your routing number and account number fall into the wrong hands, there’s a possibility that this information can be used to make payments, purchases, or other unauthorized activity. Consider using a password-protected PDF if sending your information by email. (Source: plainfinances.com)