Checking accounts aren’t just for writing checks. They are also commonly used to accept direct deposits and make automated payments. These transactions can help you streamline your finances and gain more control over your deposits and withdrawals.
You can set up automated transactions online in some cases. In other cases, you’ll need to fill out paperwork and provide a voided check with your bank’s routing and account numbers.
Here’s everything you need to know about providing a voided check.
What is a Voided Check?
A voided check is a check which is no longer valid and has the word ‘void’ written on the front. As such, it’s a check that banks won’t accept for payment.
So what purpose does it serve?
A voided check can provide the necessary information for certain electronic payments, such as direct debits.
Is a Voided Check the Same as a Canceled Check?
You’d have to cancel a check before the recipient deposited it to void it. This, however, is not the same as a canceled check.
The bank has already cleared a canceled check. It means that once a check has been cashed or deposited, it can no longer be used.
Example of a Voided Check
If your company’s payroll department requires a check from you to set up direct deposit, you can provide a voided check. Then you know that no one can change or spend the check because it has been voided.
A voided check is typically used to provide banking information so that someone can establish an electronic link with your bank account, such as a direct paycheck deposit. They request a voided check because it contains several details about your bank and account:
- Where you bank (or which credit union you use)
- Your bank account number
- A code that identifies your bank (called a “routing number”)
Those numbers printed in magnetic ink at the bottom of your check provide everything needed to deposit or withdraw funds.1 Here are a few situations where you might need to void a check:
- Direct deposit: If your employer pays you electronically, it will need your account information to get the money to the right place. A voided check is a simple way for the employer to get this information and ensure it’s correct.
- Setting up payments: If you want to stop writing checks for expenses such as rent, mortgage, and insurance, you might need to provide a voided check to set up automatic electronic payments. 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 (wrong payee or amount, for example), void or destroy it. You’re not going to use it for anything, and a partially filled-out check is risky to keep around.
How To Void a Check
Voiding a check is simple. Grab a check out of your checkbook, and write “void” across the front. Write with well-spaced letters that are tall and wide enough to cover the whole face of the check without obscuring the banking information at the bottom. Use a dark pen or marker (the thicker, the better). You want to make it difficult for thieves to erase or cover your void mark. Otherwise, they’ll have a blank check.
You don’t need to sign the check or enter any other information.
How a Voided Check Works
A voided check has the word “void” written across the front. It’s typically written in large letters, so there’s no chance of it accidentally being used.
Voiding a check “disables” the check, so it can’t be used as a blank check. In other words, a thief who steals a voided check can’t make it out to himself, enter a large amount, and sign it.
Do I sign a Voided Check?
No, signing or writing anything on a voided check is unnecessary.
All you should see is your routing number, account number, check number, and the word ‘VOID,’ which you should have written on the front of the check.
When to use a voided check
You can use a voided check for several functions, including the following:
To establish a direct deposit
The most common use for a voided check is to establish a direct deposit. If you’re going to receive payments from an employer electronically, you can send them a voided check so they have all of your bank information.
To set up automatic electronic payments.
You can also use a voided check to set up automatic electronic payments, including ongoing expenses such as rent and bills.
To cover up a mistake.
If you add one too many ‘0s’ to your check, you can’t just correct it and hope it works out. You also can’t discard it because if someone gets hold of it, they could withdraw money from your account.
The only way to give yourself peace of mind is to void the check and throw it out or shred it.
Requirements for a Voided Check
The word “void” should be written across a voided check. When you give the recipient a voided check, they copy your banking information and enter it into their systems. They should then shred the check so that no one else can access the information.
Alternatives to a Voided Check
A check (or an image of one) might not be the only way to set up electronic payments. Presumably, companies ask for a printed document because:
- It reduces the chances of error
- It reduces the chances of fraud
Because consumers frequently provide their routing and account numbers online without issue, voided checks are used less frequently. Online banks, for example, allow you to link external accounts by manually entering the information. Billers like utility companies accept e-check payments when customers enter their checking account information. Some businesses even accept phone payments, allowing customers to provide information orally.
If you don’t have a check to void in your possession, there are several other options:
- Ask your bank for a counter-check printed on demand by a branch. Banks typically charge a small fee for counter-checks.
- See whether a preprinted deposit slip for a checking or savings account is acceptable.
- Find out whether a letter from your bank is acceptable.