How to Void a Check
When you set up automatic payments, deposits, or investments, you often need to provide a voided check. Your bank information is printed on each check, and whoever asked for the voided check will use that information to set up an electronic link to your bank account. There’s only one hitch: You need to know how to void a check, and you may not have ever done that before.
Fortunately, voiding a check is easy.
How to Void a Check
Write the word “VOID” across the front of the check in large letters. Make the letters tall enough and wide enough to cover most of the check. But don’t cover the numbers at the bottom of your check—those numbers are needed to establish the link with your bank account. Use a pen or a fine-tipped marker so that nobody can erase the word “VOID.”
Writing “VOID” across the front of the check prevents anybody from using the check to make a payment (by filling in a payee and an amount). If a thief gets their hands on the check, they won’t have a “blank check,” which could be used to steal money from your account.
Keep records: Make a note of the check in your check register so that you know where that particular check went. If you don’t, you’ll see a gap in check numbers, and you don’t want to wonder what happened. Did you write a large check to somebody and forget about it, or did that check get stolen? When will it hit your account? In your check register, write “VOID” along with the check number and date, and note who you gave the check to.
Send the check or image: Your check is now ready to send. If you’re going to provide the voided check by email, don't just send it as-is—take steps to hide your account information from thieves and hackers.
If You Don’t Have Checks
How can you void a check if you don’t have any checks? You’ll have to get creative, wait for checks, or find an alternative way to link your bank account.
Online options? See if you can set up your bank account link entirely online. Instead of using forms, which require you to void a check, try logging into your account (or ask if there’s an online system). In most cases, you just need to enter your bank account information in an online form, for example, direct deposit.
Deposit slips: You may also be able to set up deposit or withdrawal instructions using a voided check instead of a voided check. A pre-printed deposit slip is usually required—not the ones you grab at the bank and fill out by hand. You may have several of these left in the back of your checkbook.
Starter checks: Another solution is to visit a branch and ask for a “counter check.” The teller will print a check with your account information on it, and you can void that check as if it came out of your checkbook.
Check printers: A creative solution is to have a check printer generate an image of a voided check for you. This won’t work if you need to mail the check, but it can help you get an image of a check with your account information. Start the process of ordering checks, and when it’s time to “preview” your order, you’ll have a basic check that you can void.
Other documents: If all else fails, you may be able to get official documentation from your bank or credit union instead of voiding a check. Ask for a letter, printed on bank letterhead, which lists your account number, routing number, and account type (checking or savings). Alternatively, some banks provide form letters for setting up direct deposit—just print it while you’re logged in to the online banking system, and it should have everything you need.
Keep a Copy
Once you have your hands on a voided check, consider scanning or photocopying it. You may need to provide voided checks numerous times in the coming years. When an original check is not required (for example, if you’re going to fax in the instructions or email an image of your check), you can use the same copy over and over. Be sure to keep this copy somewhere safe—in a locked filing cabinet or encrypted storage on your computer.