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How to fill out a check

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A Cheque being Written

Writing a check is something many of us do on a regular basis. Follow these key steps to complete yours quickly and efficiently. By writing every check this way, you’ll be able to move your money safely, quickly and protect yourself from fraud.

Writing a check: step by step

1. Fill out the date

In the top right corner of the check you’ll see a line where you enter the date. This helps you and the person you’re giving the check to keep an accurate record of when and where you made the payment.

2. Enter the payee name

Always ask who you should make the check out to as this needs to be accurate. Sometimes it may be the individual’s name or the name of a company.

3. Enter the amount in numeric form

Clearly enter the numeric value in the small box on the right-hand side of the check. You must always write as close to the edge of the box as possible to avoid any chance of fraud, where criminals can slip another digit in front. There’s no need to worry about adding the $ sign as it should already be included.

4. Write out the full amount in words

By writing out the full amount using capital letters, this ensures there can be no confusion regarding the amount. The amount written in words rather than the numerical value will always be taken as the official legal amount of your payment.

5. Add your signature

Sign on the line in the bottom righthand corner. Always use the same signature as the one your bank has on file. This is one of the most important steps as every check needs a valid signature in order to be cashed.

6. Include a note

If you’d like to add additional information to your check, you can add a note on the ‘memo’ or ‘For’ line. This could be added information to the payee on how to process your check, find your account or details about the payment, such as ‘January rent’.

Top security tips for writing a check

  • Keep a record. Once your check is cashed or deposited, the funds will remain in your account until the payment has cleared. It’s a good idea to keep a record of the checks you’ve written to avoid writing the same check twice.
  • Keep your checkbook safe. Treating your checkbook like you would cash is important to make sure it doesn’t get lost or stolen.
  • Use a black or blue pen. Thieves can alter checks that get lost or stolen, so it’s really important you always use a pen whenever you fill out a check.
  • Sign it last. Don’t sign a check until you’re ready to hand it over. Once you sign the check, you’re granting access to your account, which can be dangerous if it gets into the wrong hands.
  • Always have enough money. Before writing a check, be sure you have enough funds in your account to cover the payment. If not, your check could bounce and cause you unwanted fees and the payee problems.

How to sign a check over to someone else

To sign a check over to someone else, you’ll need to endorse the check. To do this, you’ll need to first verify the bank will accept an endorsed check.

If so, sign the back of the check with “pay to the order of …” and insert the person’s name.

Some banks choose not to accept endorsed checks as the risk of fraud is much higher.

For more advice around moving your money safely, head to Money Services to find tips on a range of topics.

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