Just as you should understand how to readthe front of a check, the back of the check is equally important. That's where you endorse it—an all-important step toward converting it to cash. After all, even in a world of electronic payments, paper checks are still routinely used for important transactions such as paying rent, getting paid, or movingyour bank account.
Once you've learned theimportant informationcontained on the front, here's how to navigate the back of the check.
What You'll See
While checks can vary depending on who issues or prints them, the back of a check generally has three separate sections.
Endorsement area:This is where you endorse, or sign, the check when you’re ready to deposit or cash it. This might be as simple as adding your signature, but it’s safest to use an endorsement thatrestricts how the check can be used. If the check is lost or stolen after you endorse it, your restriction (such as adding "for deposit only") makes it hard or even impossible for someone to steal the money.
Security screen:This area is reserved for financial institutions' use and is not an area you’ll use as a consumer. Banks use this space to note the flow of events when a check is processed. You'll notice that this section is usually printed in very light ink (possibly with a pattern of lines) making it hard to photocopy and reproduce. When legitimate check stock is used, you’ll often find the words “Original Document” written in this space—but you have to look closely.
Security box:This is a security feature that contains a warning that helps discourage thieves from altering or copying the check. It also provides tips to help consumers determine if a check is actually legitimate. For example, it might suggest that youlook for microprintor watermarks on the check.
Who Signs the Back of a Check?
There's a lot of confusion about where signatures go. Do you sign the back of a check when you write itor is that the recipient'sjob?
When youwritea check, the only place you need to sign is on the front—right on thesignature line. However, it is possible to include instructions on the back of a check when you write it. For example, “Hold for deposit until December 30, 2020.” The caveat is that you can never be completely certain that your instructions will be honored.
If youreceive a check, you’ll need to sign the back to deposit or cash it.Along with your signature, you might include instructions that limit how the check can be used. For example, if you’re mailing the check becauseyou want to deposit it to another account, you might write, “For deposit only"and then write your account number. That way, no one else can cash the check if it’s lost in the mail.
Is a Signature Required on the Back of a Check?
If you're receiving instead of writing the check, you may, in many cases, get away with depositing it without a signature if the check was made payable to you. However, it is safest to sign the check. Without a signature, the check might be sent back to the issuer, resulting in fees and delays in getting your money. Even if your bank deposits a check without a signature on the back and you see the money added to your account, that check might get rejected a week or two later.
Withpersonal checks,you’ll have a better chance of skipping the signature, but don’t be surprised if the bank hounds you for a signature on business checks or large checks.
The same is true if you’re making amobile check deposit.Some checks include a checkboxto indicate that you’re using a remote deposit service, while some banks instruct you to write something about mobile deposits on your check. You might be able to get away with ignoring those instructions, but it’s best to ask your bank for guidance.If you don’t meet your particular bank's requirements, you may face delays in getting your money.
Numbers on the Back of a Check
You're probably familiar with the routing andaccount numbers on the frontof a check, but what about those numbers printed on the back?
Pre-printed numbers in the endorsement area are often reference numbers used to track checks. They are especially helpful for businesses that print checks on blank check stock.
Numbers outside of the endorsement area are added by banks that handle the check when it is cashed or deposited. Those banks print their information on the check and then send it on to the bank that will ultimately release the funds.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What does signing the back of a check mean?
Signing the back of the check is called "endorsing" it." This endorsement provides the bank with an opportunity to verify your identity and ensure the check is deposited into the correct account. All parties who are listed on the "pay to" line on the front of the check should endorse the back.
What do you write on the back of a check when you deposit it?
When you're ready to deposit the check, endorse it on the back line or box. For extra security, write "For deposit only" or "For mobile deposit" so no one else can cash the check.
Where do you stamp the back of a check?
Instead of a signature and handwritten instructions, you can use a stamp to endorse a check in the endorsement area. The stamp should include the name of your business and bank, and can also include your account number and instructions such as "For deposit only."
What information is on the back of a check? ›
The name in the endorsement must match the payee (“Pay to the Order Of…”) name on the front of the check. If someone gives you a check and they've spelled your name incorrectly, endorse the back of the check with the incorrect spelling, and then sign your name with the correct spelling on the back of the check.How do I deposit a check with FBO? ›
Endorsing a Check For The Benefit of Another
A check that is made payable from one party for the benefit of another (FBO) is a term used in the payee line of a check that is made out to an institution or custodian. The check must be endorsed by the first payee. For example, if the pay-to line reads “Ms. Smith FBO Mr.
The first group of numbers is the routing number, and it identifies your bank within the banking system. The second group of numbers is your account number, and it identifies from which account the funds will be withdrawn when your recipient deposits the check.Who should write on the back of a check? ›
To receive the funds, the payee must sign, or endorse, the back of the check. This signature informs the financial institution that whoever signed the check is the payee and wants to accept the money.Can I cross out what I wrote on back of check? ›
Cross out the mistake and write the correction on the check.
Write the correction above the mistake neatly. Avoid scribbling out the mistake—just one solid line will do. If it's a misspelled name, write the misspelled name and the corrected name on the back of the check with your signature.
Padlock Icon This security symbol warns that the check is security protected and is found on both sides of the check, with a description of at least two of the security features on the back of the check to verify authenticity.Can I cash a check that says FBO? ›
FBO checks, or "For the Benefit of" checks, are checks written to be payable to person A for the benefit of person B. This allows checks to be cashed or deposited by a specific party even though they are meant for another. You might write an FBO check when writing a check for a child.How do you fill out the back of a check for deposit? ›
- Write “For Deposit Only” on one line.
- Write the account number on another line.
- Sign your name on another line.
An FBO account, or a For Benefit Of account, allows a company to manage funds on behalf of—or for the benefit of—one or more of their users, without assuming legal ownership of the account. Contents.How do you verify a check? ›
- Feel the edges Legitimate checks will usually have at least one rough or perforated edge. ...
- Look at the logo. A hallmark of any legitimate check is the logo of the bank where the account is held. ...
- Verify the bank address. ...
- Check the check number. ...
- Rub the MICR line. ...
- Examine the paper.
How do banks verify checks? ›
Banks can verify checks by checking the funds of the account it was sent from. It's worth noting that a bank will not verify your check before it processes it, meaning you may face fees for trying to cash a bad check. The bank checks if there are funds in the account, and if not, the check bounces.What is the number on the back of a cleared check? ›
They are the routing code for the financial institution and your account/check number.What to write on the back of a check for mobile deposit chase? ›
Remember to properly endorse the back of the check with your signature and "For electronic deposit only at Chase."Can I deposit a check not in my name? ›
The answer is yes, generally speaking. It's possible to deposit checks on behalf of another person into their bank account or in some cases, your own bank account. Banks and credit unions may allow you to deposit checks for someone else when certain conditions are met.What is supposed to be written on a check? ›
You should write the payment amount in both words and numbers, and you should carefully fill out other fields such as the data line, signature, and memo line. Recording details in a check register can record more information than your bank statement will show, such as who you paid and why.
Write “Pay to the Order of” and the third party's name below your signature. It's important to write the name of the person that you are signing the check over to in the endorsement area under your signature.Can you write on the back of a check in red? ›
Signing a check or endorsing the back of a check in red ink could trigger trouble by delaying payment of the check. In extreme instances of fraud prevention, it could even void the check's validity. “Red ink has been considered a warning color since the Cold War era,” says Angleton.Can I write a check for cash back? ›
Key Takeaways. A check made payable to cash is a type of check that can be cashed by the person who has the check, whether they're the intended recipient or not. Writing a check to cash can be helpful if you don't know who the check's payee is, or if you need to write yourself a check to get cash quickly.Do fake checks have watermarks? ›
Some fake checks even contain authentic-looking watermarks, according to the FTC. The bottom line is that, while the funds may be available in your account within days of your deposit, the check may take weeks to clear or bounce.What is the number stamped on the back of a check? ›
You will see along the bottom of the check three groupings of numbers printed there. The first is the routing number, the second is the account number, and the third is the check number.
How can I verify a check for free? ›
If you're looking for free check verification, physically going into a bank branch (preferably the one listed on the check) to complete the verification process is the cheapest way to go given that it's often a complimentary service.Can I cash a check that belongs to someone else? ›
Banks will allow you to cash or deposit a personal check for someone else. This is especially useful for people without a bank account, as it means a friend or family member can cash in a personal check for you.How do you endorse a check for mobile deposit? ›
You can make deposits in a snap with your iPhone® or Android™ device. Due to a new banking regulation, all checks deposited via a mobile service must include: “For Mobile Deposit Only” handwritten below your signature in the endorsement area on the back of the check or the deposit may be rejected.What happens if you mobile deposit a check then cash it? ›
If the employee utilizes their bank's mobile deposit app and then later cashes the original paper check at a check-cashing store, the liability for the double payment falls on the employee's bank due to that bank's Check 21 Act warranty, not the staffing company issuing the check.Why do you write for deposit only on the back of a check? ›
If you write “for deposit only” on the back of a check made out to you and then sign your name, the check can only be deposited in your account. This is called a “restrictive indorsement,” and it should prevent you or any other person from cashing the check.Do you need to endorse a check for deposit? ›
Read on, and rest assured. 1. A check must be endorsed on the back for it to be valid for deposit. So, always sign your name in the blank space next to the X just before you bring it to the Bank.Who owns the money in an FBO account? ›
The FBO model has become a popular way to mitigate potential money transmission risk on a nationwide basis. This model, in essence, relies on a banking relationship whereby funds flow through an account owned and controlled by the bank and not the fintech.Can a check overdraw your account? ›
Depending on the terms of your deposit account agreement, the bank can either return the check unpaid or they can pay the check. If paying the check results in an overdraft, the bank can assess an overdraft fee against your account. Overdraft fees must be disclosed in the deposit account agreement and fee schedule.What is the full form of FBO? ›
Within the ambit of FSSAI, the word FBO is an acronym that stands for Food Business Operators.Can a bank verify a check immediately? ›
Banks should usually be able to verify a check for you within a few minutes over the phone. You might have to take the time to go to the branch in person, however, as some banks require this.
What happens if someone writes you a bad check and you deposit it? ›
You may have to pay back the full amount of the check.
In most cases, once a check is found to be fraudulent, the amount will be charged to your bank account. Worse, the bank may charge you an additional fee for processing a fake check.
Because paper checks have no actual monetary value themselves, banks have to verify whether the transaction can actually be completed or not.How do banks spot fake checks? ›
Any legitimate check issued by a bank has a check number. The check number appears at the top right-hand corner of the check. If the check does not have a check number, the check is fake. If it does have a check number, check the number against the number in the magnetic ink character recognition (MICR) line.How long does it take for a bank to recognize a fake check? ›
Fake Checks and Your Bank
By law, banks have to make deposited funds available quickly, usually within two days. When the funds are made available in your account, the bank may say the check has “cleared,” but that doesn't mean it's a good check. Fake checks can take weeks to be discovered and untangled.
You must call the maker to verify that the check was actually issued to the customer. Ask the maker for the check number and the amount. Do NOT call the phone number printed on the check. Call an independently verified number for the company (use sites like www.411.com, etc).How do you verify a check has cleared? ›
How Do I Know If a Check Has Cleared? You can call your bank to see if a check has cleared. They'll be able to tell you your available balance and if there are any existing holds.How long does it take for a fake check to bounce? ›
It may take a bank weeks to discover that the deposited check was fraudulent! The bottom line is that, while the funds may be available in your account within days of your deposit, the check may take weeks to clear or bounce.Will a check clear with insufficient funds? ›
Generally, a bank may attempt to deposit the check two or three times when there are insufficient funds in your account. However, there are no laws that determine how many times a check may be resubmitted, and there is no guarantee that the check will be resubmitted at all.What is the checkbox on the back of a check for mobile deposit? ›
The backs of most checks now have a check box with instructions to "check here after mobile or remote deposit." This box is for your mobile deposit recordkeeping purposes only. If you choose to check this box, it is not a substitute for the correct mobile deposit endorsement note.How can I make my check clear faster? ›
The fastest way to have access to check funds is to deposit the check in person at a bank or credit union branch. That ensures the deposit is made before the bank's cut-off time, which speeds up the process. Mobile check deposits and those made at ATMs after hours typically take longer to clear.
What should you avoid when writing a check? ›
- Do Not Write Blank Checks. Ensure you have filled in the amount and the name of the business or individual before you sign and write a check. ...
- Do Not Address Check to Cash. Do not print your check payee out to “CASH”. ...
- Do Not Forget to Verify Your Check. ...
- Do Not Lose Your Checks.
Make sure you write the amount as close to the left-hand border as possible to prevent someone from committing fraud by writing additional digits to the left (for example, changing 100.00 to 2,100.00). Check amount (written out). Below the “Pay to the Order of” line, write out the check amount in words.What if you write the wrong thing on the back of a check? ›
Cross out the mistake, then add your initials. Try to make a clear line through the mistake, instead of scribbling it out. Once you've done this, you can endorse the check like normal. Make sure you can still see your signature clearly.What happens if you deposit someone else's check? ›
Unless the check specifically says, “For Deposit Only,” the person who receives it can cash it. That can be a problem if someone gives you a check to deposit and you end up losing it. Whoever finds it could cash it and keep the money.Is it OK to scribble out a mistake on a check? ›
The bank may not validate a check which has a cross out and there is a huge possibility that the check will be rejected by the bank thinking that the another person has altered the check.Can you cash a check that's not in your name? ›
Banks will allow you to cash or deposit a personal check for someone else. This is especially useful for people without a bank account, as it means a friend or family member can cash in a personal check for you.How do you verify funds on a check? ›
Sources to verify check funds
The three main sources that can verify your check funds include your bank, your customer's bank, or a third-party check verification service. It's important that the sources you use to verify check funds are legitimate.
It all depends on your bank's policies. Some banks may not allow you to deposit or cash a check made payable to someone else (a third-party check) while others may have special requirements you'll need to meet.What is the 12 digit number on the back of a check? ›
Where is the account number on a check? You can find your account number at the bottom of your checks, the second set of numbers from the left that is between 9 and 12 digits. This number lets the bank know which checking account to take the funds from.What is the 10 digit number on the back of a check? ›
It's the left group of numbers. Your Checking account number is the middle group of numbers at the bottom of a check. Be sure to include the 01 when referring to the Checking account, avoiding spaces or hyphens, so the account number is a total of ten digits.