As a general rule, you can deposit a check in the wrong name as long as you can prove that you're the intended recipient. This means that individuals can still deposit checks with minor misspellings, nicknames, old last names or new last names on them. Acceptable documentation can vary depending on your bank, but many require a government-issued form of identification.
The Uniform Commercial Code allows banks to deposit checks as long as they can verify that you are the person named on the check. Your bank may require one or more pieces of additional identification to verify your identity. If you have a check with an incorrect first or last name, bring the check along with documentation and identification to your local bank branch. If your bank isn't satisfied with your evidence, you may need to have the check reissued.
Minor Spelling Errors and Nicknames
For checks with minor misspellings and nicknames, you can still deposit a check through an ATM or other electronic device. For example, if someone writes "Patty" instead of "Patricia" or "Lindsay" instead of "Lindsey," your bank won't need extra verification. Just make sure that when you sign the check, you sign your name as it's written. That means that if your name is spelled wrong on the check, you should sign it with the same incorrect spelling when you endorse it.
Previous Last Names
If you changed your name because of marriage or divorce, it's generally not a problem to endorse checks with the wrong last name. As long as your bank is aware of previous names that you've used, it will accept checks written out to the old name. If you are opening a new bank account and you've changed your name in the past, let the bank know what your previous last names have been. You may need to show some form of old identification or documentation of the name changes.
New Last Names
If you've just changed your name and are receiving checks in your new name, you may need to show your bank documentation of your new identify before you can deposit them. Generally, a bank will want to see a government-issued ID card in your new name or a certified copy of your name change document. Another common checking issue for newlyweds is checks written out to both names. If a check is written out to "John and Jane Smith," both individuals will have to verify their identities before they can cash the check.