Check is less common than it used to be, but they are still widely used in today’s digital world by corporates and other companies. Paper checks are an effective and inexpensive tool for moving money around, but you probably do not write a check every day (or maybe you never have one).
Writing a check is easy, and this piecemeal guide will show you exactly how. Go through each step by step, or use the example above as a template for the checks you need to write. You can follow the steps in any order, as long as no important information is missing from the finished product. In this example, you will go from the beginning of a check to the end, so you should not skip any steps.
Step By Step Guide On How to Fill Out a Check
Before you write a check, make sure that’s what you need to do. Writing a check is cumbersome and not the fastest way to transfer money. You may have other options that will make your life easier and help you save money. For example:
- Pay bills online and even tell your bank to automatically send you a check each month. You do not have to write the check, pay for postage, or send the check in the mail.
- Get a debit card and use it to spend money instead. You pay from the same account, but electronically. You will not have to use up checks (which you’ll have to reorder), and you’ll have an electronic record of your transaction with the payee’s name, the date of payment and the amount.
- Set up automatic payments for regular payments like utility bills and insurance premiums. This payment method is usually free and makes your life easy. Just make sure you always have enough cash in your account to pay the bill.
- No matter how you pay, make sure you always have enough money in your checking account. If you do not, your payments can “bounce” and cause problems, including high fees and potential legal issues.
How to Fill Out a Check
- Date: This section will in be the upper right corner. In most cases, you will use today’s date, which will help you and the recipient keep accurate records. You can also postdate the check, but this may not always work the way you want it to.
- Payee: On the “Payable to” line, write the name of the person or organization you are paying. If you are not sure what to write, you may need to ask, “To whom You are writing the check” because this information must be correct.
- Amount in numbers: write the amount of your payment in the small box on the right side of the page. Write as far to the left as possible. If your payment is $8.15, the “8” should be at the far left edge of the dollar box to avoid fraud.
- Amount in words: write down the amount in words to avoid fraud and confusion. This is the official amount of your payment. If this amount is different from the numeric form you entered in the amount in numbers, the amount you wrote in words is legally the amount of your check. Use only capital letters, as they are more difficult to change.
- Signature: Sign the check legibly on the line in the lower right corner. Use the same name and signature on file at your bank. This step is essential -without a signature, the check is not valid.
- Memo line (or “For”): if you wish, you can add a memo. This step is optional and will not affect how banks process your check. The memo line is a good place to note why you wrote the check. This is also a good place to put information that your payee will need to process your payment (or find your account if something has been misplaced).
After you write the check, record the payment. A check register is an ideal place to do this, whether you use an electronic or paper register. Recording the payment prevents you from spending the money twice – the money will still show as available in your account until the check is deposited or cashed, and that can take a while. It’s best to make a note of the payment while it’s still fresh in your mind.
Keep Records of Checks
Record each check you write in a check register or diary. This way you can:
- Track your spending so you do not bounce checks.
- Know where your money is going. Your bank statement may only show the check number and amount,
- without telling you who you wrote the check to.
- Recognize fraud and identity theft in your checking account.
- You should have received a check register when you received your chequebook. If you do not have one, you can easily create it yourself on paper or with a spreadsheet.
Note down all the important information from your check:
- The check number
- The date you wrote the check
- A description of the transaction or who you wrote the check to
- What the amount was that you paid.
You can use your register to balance your checking account. When you do this, double-check each transaction in your checking account to make sure you and the bank are on the same page. That way, you’ll know if there are any errors in your account and if someone did not deposit a check you wrote (making you think you have more money to spend).
Your check register can also give you an instant overview of how much money you have available. Once you write a check, you should assume the money is gone – in some cases, the money is quickly withdrawn from your account because your check is converted to an electronic check.
Tips on How To Fill Out a Check Safely
When you write a check, make sure it is used as you intended – that the amount you expected is paid to the person or organization you intended.
Thieves can alter checks that are lost or stolen. Checks can be lost multiple times after they leave your hands. So make it difficult for thieves to give you a headache. Regardless of whether you permanently lose money or not, you will have to spend time and effort cleaning up the mess after a scam.
Develop the following habits to reduce the likelihood of fraud on your account.
- Make it permanent: Use a pen when writing a check. If you use a pencil, anyone with an eraser can change the amount of your check and the payee’s name.
- No blank checks: do not sign a check until you have written in the payee’s name and the amount. If you are not sure who to write the check to or how much something costs, just take a pen with you – it’s much less risky than giving someone unlimited access to your checking account.
- Prevent checks from growing: When filling in the dollar amount, make sure you print the value so that fraudsters can not add to it. To do this, start at the far left edge of the box and draw a line after the last digit. For example, if your check totals $8.15, place the “8” as far to the left as possible. Then draw a line from the right side of the “5” to the end of the box, or write the numbers so large that it is hard to add numbers. If you leave the room, someone can add digits, and your check could end up being $98.15 or $8,159.
- Carbon copies: If you want to keep a paper record of every check you write, get chequebooks with carbon copies. These chequebooks contain a thin sheet with a copy of each check you write. This way, you can quickly determine where your money went and exactly what you wrote on each check.
- Uniform signature: Many people do not have legible signatures, and some even sign checks and credit card receipts with funny pictures. However, if you always use the same signature, you and your bank can more easily spot fraud. If a signature does not match, you can more easily prove you are not responsible for the charges.
- Avoid writing a check for cash: It’s just as risky as writing a signed blank check or carrying around a wad of cash. if you need cash, withdraw it from an ATM, buy a stick of gum and cash out with your debit card, or just get cash from a bank teller.
- Write fewer checks: Checks are not exactly risky, but there are safer ways to pay for things. If you pay electronically, no paper will get lost or stolen. Most checks are converted to electronic payment anyway, so you are not bypassing technology when you use checks. Electronic payments are usually easier to track because they are already in a searchable format with a timestamp and the payee’s name. Use tools such as online bill pay for your recurring expenses and use a credit or debit card for your everyday expenses.
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- Can I make a check payable to myself?
You can make a check out to yourself and then deposit it at an ATM, at a bank branch, or through your mobile banking app. Follow the same procedure as described above and enter your name in the “Payable to” field on the check. When you deposit the check, you must initial it on the back.
- When should I sign the check?
Do not sign a check until you have completed the “Payable to” field and the numeric and written amount. If you sign a blank check, your bank account will be unprotected if you accidentally lose it or it is stolen.