When you set up automatic payments or deposits, you often need to provide a voided check. Your bank information is printed on each check, and whoever asked for the voided check will copy that information and set up an electronic link with your account. There’s only one hitch: you need to know how to void a check, and you may not have ever done it before.
How to Void a Check
Voiding a check is really pretty easy. Write the word “V O I D” across the front of the check in large letters. Make the word tall enough and wide enough to cover most of the check. However, don’t cover up the numbers at the bottom of your check -- those are needed to set up the link with your bank account. Use a pen or a fine tipped marker so that nobody can erase the word “VOID.” For an example, look at the upper right side of this page, where the check is voided with blue ink.
Important: don't just email that check, do something to hide your account information from thieves.
Once you’ve done all this, make a note of it in your check register so that you know where the check in question went; you don’t want to wonder whether or not you wrote a large check to somebody and worry about it hitting your account. Just write “VOID” next to the check number and date, and note who you gave the check to.
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). Nobody will have access to a blank check, which could be used to steal your money.
If you don’t have Checks
How can you void a check if you don’t have any checks? You’ll have to find another way. If you’re setting up direct deposit, ask your employer if there are any alternatives to providing a voided check (or ask your biller if you’re setting up automatic payments). A few ideas are listed below.
One solution is to go to the bank 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.
You may also be able to set up deposit or withdrawal instructions without using a voided check. Ask if you can provide a deposit slip instead of a voided check (a pre-printed deposit slip is usually required -- you can’t just fill it in by hand). You probably have a few of these left in the back of your checkbook.
See if you can set up your bank account link online. Instead of using forms (which require that you void a check), try to use an online system. In most cases, you just enter your bank account information in an online form. See How to set up Direct Deposit.
Another approach is to get documentation from the bank instead of voiding a check. Ask for a letter, printed on bank letterhead, that lists your account number, routing number, and account type (checking or savings). Alternatively, some banks provide a form letter used for setting up direct deposit -- just print it while you’re logged in to the online banking system and it will have everything you need.
Once you have your hands on a voided check, consider scanning or photocopying it. You may need to provide voided checks numerous times. If an original check is not required (for example, if you’re going to fax in the instructions), you can use the same copy over and over. Be sure to keep this copy somewhere safe -- in a locked filing cabinet or in an encrypted folder on your computer.