overview of the perfect check.
- Current date: Write this near the top right-hand corner. In most cases, you’ll use today’s date, which helps you and the recipient keep accurate records. You can also postdate the check, but that doesn’t always work the way you think it will.
- Payee: On the line that says “Pay to the order of,” write the name of the person or organization you’re paying. You may have to ask “Who do I make the check out to?” if you’re not sure what to write. Avoid writing checks payable to cash—it’s convenient but risky.
- Amount in numeric form: Write the amount of your payment in the small box on the right-hand side. Start writing as far over to the left as possible. If your payment is for $8.15, the “8” should be right up against the left-hand border of the dollar box to prevent fraud.
- Amount in words: Write out the amount using words to avoid fraud and confusion. This will be the official amount of your payment. If that amount is different from the numeric form that you entered in the previous step, the amount you wrote with words will legally be the amount of your check. Use ALL CAPITAL LETTERS, which are harder to alter.
- Signature: Sign the check legibly on the line in the bottom-right corner. Use the same name and signature on file at your bank. This step is essential—a check will not be valid without a signature.
- Memo (or “For”) line: If you like, include a note. This step is optional and will not affect how banks process your check. The memo line is a good place to add a reminder about why you wrote the check. It might also be the place to write information that your payee will use to process your payment (or find your account if anything gets misplaced). For example, you could write your Social Security Number on this line when paying the IRS, or an account number for utility payments.
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