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Five Most Common Check Writing Mistakes

Updated on June 24, 2010

As a bank teller, I am exposed to quite a number of customer errors regarding their checks. These errors can cause all sorts of trouble for everyone involved. Although some tellers take the liberty of correcting certain mistakes, officially they aren't allowed to modify checks.

Take a moment to carefully examine all banking documents, the financial institution will appreciate it.

Below is a list of the most frequent mistakes (in no particular order):

5) Written amount doesn't match the numeric amount.

For instance, a person may complete a check with the written amount as one hundred dollars, but the numeric amount is only $10.00. Almost daily we return checks for this reason. In cases like this, the bank is has the option of accepting the check for only the written amount, contacting the customer to authorize a change, or returning the check.

4) Not dated or incorrect date.

Some customers simply neglect to date their checks. Others supply the wrong date (post or stale dated) both intentionally and unintentionally. When post dating your check, make an effort to inform the payee of it. Checks with no date, future dates or those dated a certain number of days in the past will be returned.

3) Not signed.

Surprisingly enough, many people will complete every other portion of their check and then forget to sign it. These are returned instantly.

2) Signature doesn't match the one on file.

As we age, our signature changes. Other events can also alter the way a person signs documents. If the signature on a check differs noticeably from the initial sample provided it will be returned. The best way to remedy this is to furnish a more recent sample of the signature.

1) Modified or altered checks.

Checks that appear to have been altered with scratch outs, write overs, different colored inks or multiple handwriting styles are considered altered. Even if the cause is a simple mistake, these changes look suspicious and may cause the check to be returned. If a mistake absolutely must be corrected, use one line to cross out the error and initial the changes. This may not guarantee that the check remains valid, but it will lower the level of suspicion. Never use whiteout on or photocopy any checking documents.

To reiterate, closely examine checks and other banking documents before submitting them. Items are much more likely to be processed quickly if they have been completed correctly.

I would be glad to answer any personal banking questions anyone may have, feel free to ask. For my next Hub I'd like to write about the most common reasons for a check to be returned, if there is enough interest. Please let me know if this would be helpful!


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    • CASE1WORKER profile image

      CASE1WORKER 6 years ago from UNITED KINGDOM

      In the United Kingdom they will be stopping cheques soon but I don't know what they have thought of for those times when only a cheque will do

    • jimbody profile image

      jimbody 6 years ago from Chicago, IL

      Good point. This hub applies to the United States. Cheers! :)

    • FCEtier profile image

      Chip 6 years ago from Cold Mountain

      Surely you saw the movie, "Catch Me If You Can". Are the security items brought up in that movie still relevant today?

      And, do banks really continue to check the checks as closely as you talk about? I thought processing checks was mostly automated now.

      Thanks for a timely article.

    • jimbody profile image

      jimbody 6 years ago from Chicago, IL

      Yes, check kiting, identity theft and forgery continue to be big issues in the banking industry. My job as a teller requires me to examine documents very closely and verify identities as mentioned in the hub. Although lots of the processes are automated now, every paper item that goes through today's banks has a digital picture taken of it, front and back. Those images are reviewed not only by the branch staff, but proof corrections, bookkeeping and other departments as well. If anything, checks are under more scrutiny now than they were in the past mainly because it's easier for bank employees to review them digitally.

      For instance, before the advent of computerized banking software, signatures could only be verified by retrieving the paper sample from a filing cabinet. Now those samples are a few keystrokes away and much more accessible.

      Hope this helps, and thanks for the feedback! :)

    • profile image

      ajb 5 years ago

      I wrote a check for one thousand and four pounds 80 pence

      but accidently put £10004.80 and they paid out the £10004.80 how do I resolve this I have notified my bank manager he is not that confident on my behalf

    • profile image

      wrong 4 years ago

      Dates on checks are irrelevant. Post dating makes no difference. There doesn't even have to be any date on a check for a bank to process it.

    • profile image

      jennifer 4 years ago

      what if you put the amount where the "pay to" line was? can i still write the check?

    • monicamelendez profile image

      monicamelendez 4 years ago from Salt Lake City

      I recently wrote the wrong amount when I wrote it out. Not to worry, it was only $600 off. Hahhaha oops!

    • profile image

      Sunil 4 years ago

      date on my check was give an --/--/200--.but i have issued it by changing the year as 2012,will this check be valid?

      please answer as soon as possible.

    • profile image

      Johnb876 2 years ago

      Write more, that's all I have to say. Literally, it seems as though you relied on the video to make your point. You obviously know what you're talking about, why throw away your intelligence on just posting videos to your site when you could be giving us something enlightening to read? bfbddddabdgd

    • profile image

      nilam 2 years ago

      My check is in laundry machine it is little bit scratch is bank can accept?

    • profile image

      nilam 2 years ago

      Only scratch littlebit in my paycheck on my name is it approve by bank?

    • profile image

      jeniffer 16 months ago

      I have my own buisniss and tryed making out payrolll checks my self to save time and money.i screwed up acouple.then scratched name off paper to redew them paper looks ther any way i can fix that .or do i just retyp over them .im out of paper

    • profile image

      junior 12 months ago

      I got 88 hrs of vacation time and cashed in 40 hrs of my vacation and on my check they took out $680.00 which is 40 hrs of my vacation and they also took 40 hrs away from my vacation which leaves me 48 hrs left. I was like what the f#$#. I got my check stubs to make this rite on Monday. Steelhead metal corp.

    • profile image

      Ck 7 months ago

      How can i resolve my problem , i wrote 40,000 in words as fourty instead of forty. Can bank accept it or not ?

      And also the other check. Is 25,000 which is i wrote twenty thousand then i forgot to write five so i put it upper between the space of twenty and thousand. ? Is it okay ?

    • profile image

      margie 6 months ago

      i have a wrong spelling like instead of fils i wrote it "Fills" is this acceptable?

    • profile image

      Nathan osei 2 months ago

      I have a check from my dad which am supposed to use that money for my school fees and wanted to pay it through my bank card but it only said the school initials on the Oder of: and on the memo it says my name but can l cancell the school initials and put my name there cause that is what my bank is looking for before they can assept the check

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