Checking Accounts

What Is a Voided Check Used For?

If you’ve made a purchase lately, the chances are pretty high that you didn’t pay with a check. You most likely swiped a card, entered card numbers on a website, or used a third party such as PayPal to complete your transaction. The Federal Reserve noted that check use has declined steadily since 2000, and now accounts for fewer than 20% of transactions. And yet, a voided check is still often requested from employers.

Despite the rising popularity of electronic payments, checks aren’t going away any time soon. If you have a checking account, it’s a good idea to have at least a few checks. Besides paying the occasional bill or making large purchases, checks contain important information about your checking account and give you the ability to provide a voided check when you need one.

Why do you need a voided check?

A voided check can be used for many different reasons. Your employer may request a voided check to deposit your paycheck directly into your checking account. A government agency may request a voided check to deposit a tax refund or a benefit payment, such as Social Security payments. Additionally, a voided check can be used to set up automated loan payments, such as for a student loan, car payment, or mortgage. Paying this type of recurring bill with automatic payment from your checking account can help you avoid bank fees and save you time.

How do you void a check?

Voiding a check is a pretty painless process. Using a dark pen, or even a marker, simply write the word VOID across your check. Don’t cover up the numbers on the bottom, or your name and address. You’ll want to make sure that you’ve written over the “Pay to the order of” line as well as the line just below that. This will help ensure that no one else can use that check, should it fall into the wrong hands.

Even though you’ve written the word VOID on it, the check still has your account number and personal information on it, so you’ll want to be careful with it. 

Do you need to sign a voided check?

Absolutely not. The voided check simply provides your account number and routing number to the institution you’ve authorized. They will have a separate form for you to sign. It will authorize them to withdraw from or deposit into your checking account. There is no need for you to sign a voided check since the other form gives them the permission they need.

Can you set up direct deposit without a voided check?

A voided check is the most popular way employers utilize to setup direct deposit.

Most companies request a voided check because they can pull the account numbers directly from the check, resulting in fewer errors. If you don’t have a check, ask if you can use a pre-printed deposit slip or a counter check from your bank instead. 

Alternatively, you may be able to provide the company with the information yourself. You need the routing number, which is a nine-digit number that identifies your bank. This number is the first number along the bottom of a check. You’ll also need your bank account number. On a check, this number is printed along the bottom after the routing number. It can be up to twelve digits long.

How can I find my routing and account numbers if I don’t have a check?

If you don’t have a check, you have a couple of options to find your routing and account numbers. If your bank has a website, they may have your routing number listed on the website itself. You can also lookup your routing number on the American Bankers Association website. 

You may be able to find your bank account number on a paper or electronic bank statement. Check the documents from when you opened the account to see if the number is listed there. Additionally, if you use online banking, your account number may be available as a part of your profile when you’ve logged into your account.

If all else fails, give your bank a call, and they’ll be happy to help you find the numbers that you need.

A voided check has several uses and can make your financial life easier by allowing direct deposits or withdrawals from your checking account. However, if you don’t have a paper check, there are usually ways to get around this requirement. Either way, always make sure you protect your bank information by only providing a voided check or your account number to reputable companies that you do business with. Ensure that you know what they are going to do with the information once they’ve received it, and carefully read authorization forms before you sign them.