How to cancel a check in the correct way

Just like cursive, few people learn the ins and outs of check writing due to direct deposits, automatic online bill transfers, and advances in payment applications such as Venmo and PayPal.

But this does not mean that the check will be like a Dodo (at least not yet).

In fact, to set up automatic bill payment from your bank account, set up direct deposit from your employer to your bank account and complete an automated clearing house (ACH) transfer, you need to get your convenient checkbook, because you will probably Need to void the check.

What is a voided check?

Voided checks are real checks and can no longer be used as legal tender because they have been voided. The moment you cancel the check, you make the check unusable for actual payment purposes.

Why you may be asked to void a check

Why do you want to void the check? there are many reasons.

  • Direct deposit: Usually, the employer will ask for a voided check to set up a direct deposit for your salary, which means that the money will go directly to your bank account. Actually, 93% of Americans receive their salary in this way. Voided checks allow your employer to view your account information, including your bank account number and routing number, and ensure that they have been accurately entered into your employer’s payroll system. This can be a blank check.
  • Automatic bill payment or general withdrawal: Similarly, companies that automatically withdraw funds from your checking account, such as your mortgage company, will want to make sure they have the correct bank account information. They will use the actual legal check to set up bill payment from your account. You may also need to provide invalid checks for other bill payment options, although this is not common. For this, you should also use a blank check.
  • Mistake: If you make a mistake while writing the check, you can also cancel the check.For example, if you are writing a check for $100, but accidentally add an extra zero (making it $1,000), it is safer to cancel the entire check so that no one accidental Withdraw $1,000 from your account before you block them.
Capitalize “VOID” on the check. Don’t cover up the routing and account numbers at the bottom.Chris Zupa/Penny Hoarder

How to void a check

Don’t know how to cancel a check? no problem.

It’s easy to cancel a check. Pick up a blue or black ink pen (this is important) and write the word “VOID” in capital letters on the front of the check.

Do not write “VOID” on the routing number and bank account number at the bottom, as they will be used to set up your bank account for direct deposit or withdrawal.

Or, you can write “VOID” in capital letters in the date line, payee line, amount line, signature line, and amount box. Because this requires more effort and it is easy to miss any line or box, most people choose to simply write the word “VOID” in capital letters on the check.

Expert tips

When canceling a check, you should not sign on the signature box. You don’t need to date it either.

After the check is invalidated, write down the check number and the reason for the invalidation in the check register. (This is the record of all payments and deposits in your bank account. Although most banks now provide you with this record through apps and/or online banking sites, it’s also wise to record checks manually and compare them with digital bookkeeping Provided by your bank. Remember: honest errors will occur.)

Likewise, once you cancel a check, you can no longer use it, so make sure you are ready to cancel that particular check before doing so. Can not go back.

Expert tips

Keep your voided checks or take photos and/or scans and save them for future use. This way, you don’t have to waste a clean check every time someone asks for a check.

What if you don’t have a check

Nowadays, people rely on a combination of mobile wallets, payment apps, debit cards, direct deposits, and automatic transfers to handle their finances, which makes checks useless to many people. Therefore, some people who have a bank account don’t have a checkbook at all.

So, what if you don’t have a check and need to void one? You have several options:

  • You can order checks. Many financial institutions provide you with the first set of checks for free, and some financial institutions provide you with multiple checks for free each year. These usually take 7 to 10 business days to ship, so if you need to cancel a check quickly, this is not an ideal solution, although it might still make sense to do it now the next time you need to cancel a check.
  • You can apply to start the inspection. If your bank collects checks or it takes a week or more to send the check, you can check if your local branch can print an initial check for you to void. They should be able to print this file internally to speed up the turnover. These are also called counter checks and may sometimes be charged.
  • You can get a deposit slip. The purpose of canceling direct deposit or autopay checks is to provide the institution with a verifiable copy of your account and routing number. The deposit slip contains the same information, and most banks provide this information to members.
  • You can request other documents. If all other methods fail, and you are eager to provide someone with your bank’s official account number and routing number, please ask for other documents, such as a note on the bank’s header. This may be sufficient when setting up direct deposit or ACH information.
  • You can set the details online. Canceling checks is not the only way to set up a new account. When you register online, many utility companies and other payees to whom you pay monthly will not ask for a voided check. Some people will make insignificant withdrawals (and return funds almost immediately) just to verify that you have set up a bank account correctly, so make sure you have enough funds in your checking account before trying to avoid overdraft fees.

How to cancel a check

So, if you need to cancel a check that has already been given to someone else, what would you do? Are you out of luck? Not completely.

Please note: Cancelled checks are different from voided checks, and are usually accompanied by some emergencies.

Suppose you send a check and then realize that you made a mistake, such as overpaying. You must contact your bank quickly to cancel it. You will need the following information:

  • Cheque number
  • Check amount
  • Check date
  • Name or company name of the recipient of the check
  • Reason for stopping payment

You should have a copy of the check in your checkbook for your reference. You can also check your check register for this information.

Some banks allow you to do this through apps or online banking, but you can also go to the bank in person or call to cancel the check. Tell them that you need to stop the payment order, but be prepared to pay for this service.

If the payee of the check has already cashed or deposited the check, please do not try to stop the payment online. Go to the bank in person or call them.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Below are some common questions about voided checks. See if these answer any of your questions:

How do you invalidate a check sent to you?

If you receive a check and the payer asks you to void it, first make sure you receive all the money owed to you in other forms (cash, Venmo, new check to be cleared, etc.). Once you are sure that you will still receive the appropriate payment, you can cancel the check that was given to you by someone else; just write “VOID” in capital letters on the check. To better measure, you should chop or burn the check.

Can you void a check that has been mailed?

If you accidentally mailed a check to the wrong person or mailed the wrong amount, you can try to cancel the check before it is cashed or deposited. Some banks allow you to do this online or through their mobile app, but you can also call your bank or go to the branch in person to issue a stop payment order.

Fees are usually charged for stopping payments. You should also warn the payee that you have issued a stop payment.

Do you sign a voided check?

If you have signed the check and want to void it, you can still write “VOID” on the front of the check. However, you do not need to sign an invalid check to cancel. A large “VOID” is enough to void the check without signing.

Timothy Moore is the executive editor of WDW magazine and a freelance writer and editor, covering topics such as personal finance, travel, career, education, pet care, and automobiles. He has been working in this field since 2012, including publications such as The Penny Hoarder,, Ladders, Glassdoor, Aol, and The News Wheel.

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