What Is a Voided Check?

Check writing has become a lost art. Instead of paying by check at the register, today's consumers insert a chip or hold a smartphone nearby. Instead of mailing payments for bills, accounts are set up to take the money automatically from a payer's checking accounts. With all of these changes, it's no surprise that the concept of a voided check may be foreign to some people, especially younger generations.

What is a Voided Check?
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What Is a Voided Check?

A voided check is simply a check that has been retracted by the person who issued it. Think of it like an "undo" button for paying someone. Checks are supposed to be written in nonerasable ink, which means that if you write the wrong number or misspell the name on the "to" line, you can't exactly erase it and start over. You're supposed to write "Void" in bold letters across the face of the check and destroy it, preferably by shredding. But checks don't have to be shredded by the issuer to become void. If you hold a check for months or years before taking it to the bank, you could find that it has become void due to your delay.

What Is a Company Voided Check?

In some instances, it isn't an individual retracting the check after it has been written. A company may void the check if, for instances, a contract falls through before work has begun or an expense check is issued for the wrong amount. A company needs to follow the same processes as a consumer when this happens, though. Unless it can be destroyed in a way that someone couldn't intercept it and piece it back together, the word "Void" needs to be stamped in bold letters across the front.

What Does a Voided Check Look Like?

A voided check looks exactly like a regular check, but it has the word "Void" across the front. It's important to note that it's likely the word "Void" won't obscure your account information, which is printed across the bottom of the check. That means if someone intercepted the check after you tossed it in the trash or set it aside on your desk, they could use the information. With your checking account number, they may be able to print a fake check that they could then use for fraudulent purposes. This only stresses the importance of destroying the document in addition to marking it as void.

How Do You Write a Void Check for Direct Deposit?

Often when signing up for direct deposit, you'll be asked to either forward a deposit slip or a voided check. If you choose the check option, just write "Void" across the front, as you would if you had made an error while writing it. If you're allowed to scan or snap a photo of the check and submit it, make sure you shred the check once you've sent the copy. If possible, try to send the image in a secure manner, since it has your account information clearly printed on it.

Are All Checks Void After 90 Days?

If you look closely at a check, you'll see that some contain fine print that stipulates an expiration date. This is usually written as, "Void if not cashed within" a certain number of days. Often this will be 90 days, but it could be more or less. There's a reason for this. Holding a check for months or years can interfere with the issuer's bookkeeping. However, simply having that text on the check doesn't mean the bank won't deposit it. Each bank is given discretion as to whether or not to deposit a check, even if it's years old. That said, if you have a Treasury check, you may want to get to the bank before a year is up, since financial institutions are instructed not to take them after that time.