When you walk into a bank or credit union to cash a check, you want to have your ducks in a row. As the payee on the check, you'll need to endorse the back of the check before you deposit it into your bank account.
But what if you have a personal check made out to a different name than yours? Can you still cash or deposit it into your checking account?
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Payee Name Errors You Might See on a Check
Although the name of the payee on the front of the check should match the name of the account holder, that's not always the case. Unfortunately, everyone can make a mistake, and getting the payee's name wrong on the front of the check is not uncommon. But you can likely still deposit it.
Misspellings and Nicknames
If you are depositing a check into your own account, you'll want to ensure the name on the front of the check is correct. The name should be correct whether it's your checking account or savings account. But if your nickname is Cathy and the name on your bank account is Catherine, the check should really be made out to Catherine. Check cashing shouldn't be a problem if you have a bank account with the financial institution and have identification:
- Endorse the check. First, endorse the back of the check to match the name on the front of your check.
- Correct the name. Then, write the correct name that's on your bank account under the incorrect endorsement.
- Make the deposit. Follow this procedure for a bank deposit. You'll need a deposit slip from your checking account and identification.
If the check bounces, it has nothing to do with the endorsement. It just means there's not enough money in the payer's checking account. The payer will likely be charged an overdraft fee.
When the payee on the front of the check is misspelled, endorse the check as you would if it was a nickname. Write the incorrect name in the endorsed check line and the correct spelling underneath it.
Former Last Names
Sometimes an account holder will change their last name due to marriage. A check writer may inadvertently fill out the front of the check on the payee line with the former name. Your financial institution will still cash the check if you endorse it correctly.
If your new name is on your checking account or savings account, endorse the back of the check with the incorrect name and then write the correct name underneath it.
Your financial institution will probably want identification and proof of your new name to prove you are the proper account holder.
New Last Names
When the account holder has a new last name and the check is written to the old last name, the payee will need to have identification for the bank or credit union. At that point, the account holder will need to endorse the back of the check with the wrongly spelled name and the new name endorsed underneath it.
Different Names Entirely
A financial institution will not accept a scratch-out on a check. If the check is written to the wrong name, it's best to ask the payer to rewrite the check.
Will the Bank Let Me Deposit the Check?
The bank or credit union will let you deposit the check if you endorse it correctly. You will need a deposit slip for your checking account or savings account.
If it is a direct deposit with the name spelled incorrectly, you don't have to endorse the check. The direct deposit has your bank account number on it.
Frequently Asked Questions About Check Mistakes
When cashing a check or depositing a check in your personal account, you want it to go smoothly. But if the payee is written incorrectly, there could be a problem. So here are some frequently asked questions about checks.
Can I Still Deposit a Check With a Wrong or Misspelled Name?
You can deposit a check with a misspelled name. You'll need to endorse it correctly and have identification. If someone writes a totally wrong name, you should have them rewrite the check.
How Do I Endorse a Check if It’s Made Out to a Name That’s Different From My Legal Name?
You can endorse a check different from your legal name, as in a nickname. Endorse the back of the check with the wrongly written name, then endorse the correct name under it.
What Should I Do if I Misspell the Name on a Check?
If you can, you should rewrite the check if you misspell a name on a check. If you can't do that, the payee must properly endorse the check. They will endorse the name from the front of the check onto the back of the check. Then they will endorse the correctly spelled name underneath it.