Follow these key steps to fill out a check quickly and correctly. Write every check this way to move your money safely, speedily and protect yourself against fraud.
How to write a check
1. Fill out the date
In the top right corner of the check is a line to put the date. This helps you and the person receiving 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. This can avoid any chance of fraud, where criminals may 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
Writing ‘full amount’ using capital letters makes sure there can be no confusion about the amount. With how much the check is for written in words rather than the numerical value, it will always be taken as the official legal amount of your payment.
5. Add your signature
Sign on the line in the bottom right-hand 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 to be cashed.
6. Include a note
If you want to add extra information to your check, you can include a note on the ‘memo’ or ‘For’ line. This could be 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
- Store your records. 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 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. This can be dangerous if it gets into the wrong hands.
- Always have enough money. Before writing a check, make sure you have enough funds in your account to cover the payment. If not, your check could bounce and lead to unwanted fees and payee problems.
How to sign a check over to someone else
To sign a check over to someone else, you need to endorse the check. To do this, first verify the cashier will accept an endorsed check. Some places don’t accept checks that have been endorsed to someone else, due to the risk of fraud.
To sign a check over to someone else, write “pay to the order of …” and insert the person’s name.