What to Do With a Damaged, Ripped or Torn Check

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Are you in possession of a damaged check that is giving you sleepless nights? Well, here is a list of possible solutions to enable you to cash that check and get your money.

What to Do With a Damaged, Ripped or Torn Check

If you receive a personal check either as a gift or payment for services rendered, you can either cash or deposit it in your bank. Assuming that you accidentally rip the check before cashing it, how do you handle the damaged check?

A small mishap can occur when handling your check or when opening the mail with your check leaving it badly damaged. Unfortunately, if a check is torn, it may not make it through the bank’s automated processing machines.

This can keep you from accessing your cash.

However, if you’re lucky enough, you can find a way around this, which can save you time and effort of trying to get a replacement. Cashing a damaged check may or may not be possible depending on several reasons.

But, before you try cashing a check, whether torn or not, it’s vital first to ensure that it is valid. For you to get your money quickly and inexpensively, you need to be sure that the check is valid.

First, be sure that your check has the characteristics of a valid check.

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Characteristics of a Valid Check

You can receive check payments from various parties. For example, you can get checks from:

This means that you must be able to recognize a valid check before you can even think of cashing it. If any information is invalid or missing, then you may not be able to deposit or cash it.

Some of these characteristics of a valid check include:

  • An account number
  • Check writers’ name
  • The signature of the check writer
  • An amount of the check both in, words and numbers
  • The date the check was drawn
  • The right check paper, length, and size

For a check to go through the bank check reading machines, it must be printed with a special magnetic ink. When depositing or cashing a check, a teller runs it through the Magnetic Ink Character Recognition machine that recognizes the ink.

If the check is severely damaged, tellers can deny making payment since the machine cannot read all the relevant details of the check.

If a damaged check is also invalid, it cannot go through the bank check reading machine even if the teller tries to tape the pieces back together.

Here are several ways to verify the validity of the check before you cash or deposit it:

  1. Verify If the Person Who Wrote the Check is Trustworthy

Verifying the trustworthiness of the person that wrote the check is a very crucial thing that you cannot afford to ignore. If you are not sure about the credibility of that person, try to find out the following information about them:

  • Full name
  • Location or home address
  • Driver’s license number
  • Phone number

Also, you can confirm if the account of the drawee has enough funds available to cover the check. Some banks can offer you that information.

This reduces the chances of having the check bounce, which can not only be inconvenient but can also cost you some money.

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  1. Verify that the Check is Made Out to You

Verifying that the check is written correctly and your name is spelled out correctly is also very important. If the name on the check does not match that of the person attempting to cash it, the banks can refuse to make the payment.

Most banks do not cash a check that is made to a small business. Instead, they deposit the check to the bank account of the company.

In that case, verify that the name of the business is the one that appears on the check.

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  1. Confirm the Date

An inaccurate or a missing date on the check can make it invalid. The check date is the first date the funds can be withdrawn.

The banks also have a right and an obligation to refuse to make check payments if the check is cashed or deposited six months after the date it was written.

  1. Check the Signature

A valid check must have the signature of the (drawee)bank account’s owner from which the cash will be withdrawn. The bank cannot honor a check that has not been signed.

  1. Ensure the Numerical Amount Matches the Amount in Words

If the numerical amount does not match the written amount, then the check is invalid. You must ensure that the written amount is the exact one you are owed.

The amount on the check represents the money that will be paid to you.

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  1. Payee Must Endorse the Check

Before cashing a check, the payee must also endorse the check by signing on the line that says, “Endorse here.” This is usually on the reverse side of the check. Before you proceed to cash or deposit the check, make sure that you have signed on the line.

If the check has more than one payee, all of them must sign to endorse it. If the check is meant for joint account holders, one of the partners can sign and cash or deposit the check. The bearer of the check can cash it unless there are some written restrictions not to.

Before we look at how to handle a ripped or damaged check, let’s look at how to cash a valid check. Here are three common ways to cash a check:

cashing a check
credit: quora.com

How to Cash a Check

  • Cash the Check With a Teller

The first thing to do when cashing a check is to visit the nearest branch. Most banks have multiple branches, and chances are, you won’t have to travel far before you locate one. You can check your nearest branch by:

  • Searching online
  • Checking through your bank’s website
  • Calling them

If you visit your bank, make sure that you have your original identification Card (ID), a driver’s license, or passports. In a few instances, a school ID or military ID may also be accepted.

Most banks also require you to have a debit card. If you don’t have it, the teller may ask you to fill in additional forms.

Most banks do not charge any fee, especially if you hold an account with them. In some banks, you need to deposit the check to your account rather than cash it, primarily if the check is written from a different bank.

If the check bounces, your bank can reimburse themselves from your bank account. Most banks charge for dealing with a returned check.

  • Cash the Check at an ATM

Cashing with a teller is the most common way that most people know. But, you can also cash a check at the ATMs (Automatic Teller Machines) of most large banks. In an ATM, the funds are usually available immediately.

If you cash at the ATM, you may not need to show a photo of your ID. Here, you’ll need to have your bank debit card, which helps identify your account. Make sure that the check is valid before you try to insert it at the ATM.

  • Deposit the Check Electronically

Many banks also allow one to deposit checks into their accounts electronically using their smartphones. Most banks require you to download their app and then take a photo of the front and the back of your check.

Every bank has a different process to follow. Ensure that you follow all the instructions given in the bank app.

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  • Use a Retailer to Cash the Check

Large retailers and grocery stores can also cash certain kinds of checks that they deem reliable. For example, they can cash government checks and payroll checks. Most merchants do not cash personal checks.

Those that cash in personal checks, like 7-Eleven, charge a small fee for it, which varies with location. On the other hand, Walmart charges a fee that changes with the amount. For example, a check of up to $5,000 will be charged a fee of $6.

  • Use a Prepaid Card

Most banks and financial institutions now give people without accounts a prepaid card. You can deposit a check to withdraw cash at select ATMs if you have a prepaid card. This incurs a fee that depends on the type of the card.

For instance, Visa offers a reloadable “payroll card” that is issued through employers. If you have the card, you can deposit a check and withdraw money at any ATM that accepts Visa debit cards.

Also, most large banks such as Chase, MasterCard, and American Express issue prepaid debit cards. For example, if you have a Chase prepaid card, you can deposit a check at any Chase ATM.

These types of cards attract a monthly fee. For example, in Chase, the charge is up to $4.95.

How to Handle a Torn Check

When dealing with a torn check, there are a few things that you will have to do differently, and the process entirely depends on different bank policies.

Let’s find out a few options for dealing with a ripped check and answer some of the most pressing questions one may ask.

How Can You Cash a Ripped Check?

How banks treat torn or damaged checks depend on their bank policies. If you have verified that your check is valid, but you ripped it accidentally, you can take it to your bank and ask the teller if they can process it.

Being able to cash a damaged check depends on the bank and the condition of the check.

If the routing numbers and printed accounts have been severely damaged, the bank machine will not be able to process the check.

Some banks’ policies do not allow you to process a torn check digitally, even if you usually deposit checks with your mobile.

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Will a Bank Accept a Ripped Check?

Some banks may be able to help you cash a ripped check. To others, a damaged check is worthless. If the check is torn, it’s vital to ensure that all the information on the check is still clear.

If your check gets torn accidentally, never try to glue or tape it back. This can make the situation even worse. Visit the bank, take it to a teller, and politely explain to her or him what happened.

The teller will tape it back and find out if they can process it. If it’s impossible to process it, then you will have to take it back to the person, bank, or company where it was drawn and ask for a replacement.

Or if you are the owner of the check you may need to void the check.

Can You Cash a Ripped Check?

Cashing a torn check depends on the financial institution that is supposed to give you the funds and the damage that has been done.

If the tear has not affected the signature, serial number, or any other identifying information, you may be lucky and can cash the check.

On the other hand, if the damage was significant and you will have to put together several pieces together, then you are better off seeking a replacement other than trying to process it.

How to Fix a Ripped Check

Being able to fix a ripped check depends on the bank cashing it. Some banks offer to handle a torn check at a fee.

If you have multiple accounts that can help you process the check, it may be worth checking with different banks to find the one willing to assist you handle the torn or damaged check.

If you want to manage multiple accounts with ease, you can make use of the Personal Capital app. The app is completely free and helps me to manage all my accounts from a single platform easily.

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Replacing a Torn Check

If you are not lucky with cashing a torn check, the final resort is to find a replacement with the person or company that issued it. Different companies have standard policies of replacing lost or damaged checks.

Make sure that you follow the policy of your company when replacing a torn check.

If it is an individual, then you will have to let them know what happened. Some people need to make sure that the check is not cashed in the future.

To do that, they can request you to return the check to them so that they can destroy it themselves.

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Conclusion on How to Deal With a Damaged Check

Although dealing with a damaged check can sometimes be frustrating, all is not lost. With the above ideas, you can choose one that seems helpful, and that can help you get out of the predicament.

Besides, if cashing the check is impossible, you can always try getting a new one from the person who wrote it.

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