Since the advent of electronic checking, paper checks have become less common. While banks and financial institutions still process them, knowledge of how they work is ebbing among the population. We simply don’t use checks to the same degree as we did. Indeed, 93% of Americans today receive direct deposits instead of physical paychecks.
However, there are still situations in which you need to know how to void a check, particularly when you want to issue checks to employees paid by direct debit or set up direct deposit accounts with vendors.
Instructions to Void a Check
Voiding a check is incredibly simple. It involves just writing the word “VOID” on the check itself.
There are two accepted ways of doing this:
- Writing “VOID” in large writing on the front of the check, making sure the letters cover all lines but don’t hide the check and account numbers
- Writing “VOID” separately on the signature line, amount box, payee line, amount line, and date line
Following are more detailed steps to create a voided check:
Step 1: Start with a Blank Check
Banks don’t require you to include any additional information on the lines when voiding checks. All you need to do is take out a blank check from your checkbook to proceed.
Step 2: Void a Check with Blue or Black Ink
The next step is to take a black or blue ink pen and write “VOID” in capital letters across the front of the check. By writing “void” on a check, you prevent anyone else from filling out the remainder of it and cashing it to a different account.
Make sure that as you write the word “VOID,” you do not cover the account and routing numbers. If you obscure them, bank clerks won’t be able to identify your checking account.
Step 3: Make a Copy
The last step is to copy the voided check and send it to the relevant party, such as your employer. You should hold onto the original copy to make sure that the check number is not used at a later date.
What Situations Require You To Void a Check?
There are many situations in which you may want to cancel a check. Voiding a blank check lets you share your account information while preventing anyone from using the check.
It is common to make mistakes when writing checks, mainly if you do it by hand. However, you should never throw the half-completed check in the bin. If you do, there is a risk that somebody might find it and cash it with a different bank account from the one intended. Writing “VOID” on it prevents anyone from using it in any way.
You may also need to void a bill payment check if you set up automatic or recurring payments that are deducted from your checking account.
Lastly, learning how to void a check for direct deposit can also be helpful when you want to get the money directly into your account. Sending a void check to employers lets them view your account details to set up payment.
What Happens if You Don’t Have a Checkbook?
If your account does not have a checkbook, how can you provide a voided check?
First, you can ask businesses and employers who need your account and routing numbers to connect to your account directly. Many establishments can do this, so you might not need to provide a voided check that could get lost in the mail.
However, if connecting to your account is not an option, you may want to try accessing a preview of your checks online. You may then be able to print these, write “VOID” on them, and send them to the relevant parties. Always check if receivers accept the previews, as it’s not always the case.
The other option is to get what’s sometimes called a “counter check” at your local bank branch. Instead of handing you a large checkbook, they provide you with only one check that you can then void. You may have to pay a fee for this service.
Of course, if you are trying to prove your account details, you don’t necessarily need to use a check. Any formal documentation from the bank should suffice. Banks, for instance, may be able to draft an official letter with your account and routing numbers that you can use instead of the regular voided check.
How to Send a Void Check by Email
If you’re trying to void a check via email, don’t send it as a pasted image or an attachment. Instead, do one of the following:
- Put it in a password-protected file
- Create a link to a file in a protected folder
- Put it in an encrypted file
Better yet, send it as a physical copy. That way, there is no risk of a hack.
How to Void a Check Lost in the Mail
Voiding and reissuing a check is sometimes necessary, for example, when the check gets lost in the mail. You will need to contact your bank or credit union to do this.
Start by checking your bank statements to see if the check has cleared. If it hasn’t, you can issue a stop payment order. This order instructs the bank not to clear the check.
Next, collect the information you will need to speak to your bank. You will require an account number, the exact amount of the check, and the check number. You may also require details of the payee – the person receiving the check – and the name of the person who signed it. You should have this information on your checkbook stubs.
Next, contact your bank directly, either via telephone, online or in writing to tell them to stop processing the check. Most banks and credit unions provide contact information on their credit and debit cards.
Once you contact the bank, they will put the stop payment order into effect. Orders typically last six months to prevent anyone from cashing the check out without your consent. After that period, most banks will not cash the check anyway because it is more than six months old.
Some banks and credit unions allow you to cancel checks for free, but they are few and far between. Most charge fees, sometimes up to $30, to cancel a check that would otherwise be debited from your account. Furthermore, there may be differences in tariffs when you pay over the phone and online.
Voiding a Check in Quickbooks
If you use Quickbooks accounting software and you need to void a check, you can. Here’s what to do:
- Click Banking and then Use Register, then click on the account that wrote the check.
- Click on the check entry number that you want to void.
- Click Edit and then Void Check. When prompted to void the check in the current period, click Yes.
- Click Record to make a permanent record of the void.
Voiding a payroll check in Quickbooks is also straightforward:
- Click the Payroll Center or Employees, depending on the system you use.
- Click the arrow to Related Payroll Activities and select Void Paychecks. (If you are not using a payroll service, simply click Void Paychecks).
- In Show Paychecks From and Through, specify when you wrote the check.
- Select the paycheck you want to void from the list and click “Void.”
- Once you click Void, make sure that the amount on the check goes to zero.
- Click Done and exit the screen.
In this post, we explored how to cancel a check. The process is surprisingly easy, but understanding why you need to do it might be more complicated. You may need to void checks when proving your bank details to utility companies or employers, or when you’ve made a mistake writing them.
It is also important to know where to write “VOID” on a check. You can write it in a small script in the amount line, payee line, amount box, signature line, and date line, or in large writing across the front of the check covering all fields except the check and account numbers.