Write Your Checks Correctly

More and more people prefer to use online payment options or debit cards.  But the vast majority of Mr. A’s customers still use their checking accounts in the old fashioned way, and prefer to write a physical check. We have only had one person ask to pay by credit card, and she ended up using a check in the end.

Recently we had a customer write a check and in the area where you insert the numbers she wrote the correct amount, which was $100.50. But in the part where you spell out the dollar amount using words, she wrote One hundred fifty and 00/100 cents.

Mr. A didn’t notice that, and neither did I.

The credit union noticed it. When the check was deposited they entered in the amount I’d written on the deposit slip, which was the amount of the invoice: $100.50. Later in the week someone noticed the written amount.

The credit union deducted the $100.50 they had deposited, and replaced it with $150.00. We notified the credit union that the check should have been for $100.50 but were told they could not change the amount since they are required to go by the written amount.

We have notified the customer, and have written her a check for the difference.

I have never had that happen, and didn’t know the bank would go with the written amount rather than the number amount.

I wonder if that is the same with all banks? Mrs. Money would probably know since she works at a bank.

For your reference, here is a diagram to show you where everything goes.

How to Write a Check Correctly

 

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22 comments to Write Your Checks Correctly

  • Interesting. I just always assumed the check would be rendered invalid if it had different amounts. Part of me (the slightly cynical part) wonders if it is the written amount or the highest amount. Hmmmm….

    [Reply]

    Mrs. Accountability Reply:

    Lakita: LOL, I can relate to your slightly cynical part. It would be interesting to do an experiment some time with something that wasn’t too important, and see how it turned out. Of course, that would mean the bank person would have to be really doing their job that day. I can imagine someone not paying close attention and just letting that discrepancy past without noticing it.

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  • The legal amount is the one written in words. We have to be careful when we take checks, because that’s the amount we have to go by, like you said. :) Great post, Mrs. A!

    [Reply]

    Mrs. Accountability Reply:

    Mrs. Money: Thanks for your confirmation! I knew you would be able to let us know the scoop from someone in the biz.

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  • That is weird! I wonder if they just make up the rules as they go along!

    I use the online name of Forest but my real name is Ian…. I accidentally signed up to some online stuff as Forest without thinking and when I received a check from the company written out to Forest I was a little annoyed at myself…. Before sending the check back I just took it to the bank to see if anything could be done without having to get a complete replacement… They just took the check and cashed it as normal as it came from a reputable company and had my address and surname correct!! Still scary that they have that authority, I could have taken it from a sibling!

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  • Yeah, I wrote the incorrect amount out for our rent. And they couldn’t take it, even though the numerical amount was correct.

    I’ve found that most banks will reject it outright. My guess is that it only went through because the cashier didn’t look closely enough at first.

    [Reply]

    Mrs. Accountability Reply:

    Hi Abigail, you’re probably right. The cashier must not have noticed it. I haven’t seen a lot of checks written like this, but I was kind of surprised that they caught it at all in this day and age…

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  • It makes sense that the written part would be more important since it seems harder to tamper with.

    By the way, it has taken be about six months to be able to write a check correctly in France. The lines for the amount and the order are the reverse of what they are in the US. In the first few months, I had to rip up a number of checks and start over. Grrr.

    [Reply]

    Mrs. Accountability Reply:

    Simple in France: It does make more sense! I never considered how checks would be written in other places, that is interesting!

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  • Checks are becoming so obsolete. LOL. I forgot how to write them too.
    My friend asked me the other day to write her a check for an Avon purchase. I told her, “I don’t even have checks for this account”. LOL.

    [Reply]

    Mrs. Accountability Reply:

    Money Funk: They are becoming obsolete for personal, but at least in my experience not so much for businesses. But then most businesses rely upon an electronic accounting program to print the checks so there is still less involvement with the actual writing of the check. Also it’s interesting how only one person has asked to use a credit card to pay my husband. Lots of checks still being used out there apparently.

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  • That’s really interesting, you would think they would re-fund the check and tell you to figure it out or something if it was obvious that there was a mistake. Good to know!

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    Mrs. Accountability Reply:

    Chloe: I can imagine them doing something like that!

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  • Anne

    I find this very interesting because within the last year someone at my bank mis-read the numerical amount written on a check and put the check through as $200 dollars when it was spelled out as one hundred dollars. I’ve been extra careful on getting my checks written out clearly (& not in the car on the way to church) since then. I guess someone at the bank was in a hurry because it had been recorded properly on the church’s deposit slip.

    [Reply]

    Mrs. Accountability Reply:

    Hi Anne, hopefully you had enough money in your account to cover that error until they figured it out! Thanks for sharing your experience with us.

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    Anne Reply:

    @Mrs. Accountability, Thankfully we didn’t have any problems.

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  • sewingirl

    Years ago my Hubby was working for a guy down the road who always paid him by personal check. And mostly goofed up the check amounts. Our local bank wouldn’t take them, and this was in the 80′s. I remember him having to take the check back to the guy many times to get a correct one. Finally, the guys wife started writing the checks!

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  • This is an excellent point! My department receives a lot of payments and we have to be VERY careful to use the written amount on our deposit slips. Before working this closely with checks and the bank I assumed the numbered amount would be used instead of the written amount.

    Great information to share with everyone & make others aware to watch what they write on checks.

    [Reply]

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