5 Tips for Writing Checks Safely

Man writing a payment cheque at the table with calculator and glasses

It’s estimated that more than 15 million Americans are victims of identity theft and fraud every year, totaling over $50 billion in damages. One method of payment that’s vulnerable to such attacks is the personal check. Personal checks are still a viable payment option utilized by millions of us every day, but it’s important to ensure that you’re taking the proper safety measures when it comes to this method of payment. Here are five tips for writing checks:

  1. Always use black ink: Black ink sets into the check paper and makes it harder for criminals to alter. Many thieves turn to check washing to alter checks, which is when chemicals are used to erase parts of the check, such as the payment amount. Black ink makes this difficult to do.  When writing a check, try to use either a gel ink or a fountain filled pen.
  2. Voiding: If you make a mistake writing a check, it’s crucial to make it unusable in case it falls into the wrong hands. Be sure to write “VOID” boldly across the front of the check and tear it in half. Then, either store it in a safe place, burn it, or run it through a paper shredder.
  3. Dollar amounts: When you write in the dollar amount on the check, always place the first numeral close to the dollar sign. This ensures that nobody can alter it by adding in another numeral to make the amount more than you intended. The same principle applies for the space where you write out the amount in words.
  4. Memo line: Use this to make notes about what you’re writing checks for. Never write your social security number or any other important details like your home phone number in this space.
  5. Recording: Always record the check. This gives you a written history of exactly what you wrote each check for, when you wrote it, and how much it was. It can be a crucial piece of evidence in the event your identity is compromised.