When writing a check, several sections must be completed and accurate. Among the most important are the two payable amount blanks. Inaccurate or incomplete entries cease any check cashing or deposit actions.
On any valid check, whether a preprinted personal account check or a counter check found in most bank and savings and loan branches, the two sections denoting the amount authorized to be paid on that check must be completed, and they must match amounts.
The first chronological amount area is found to the right of the payee line and below the check date. The second amounts area is directly below the payee line and generally extends from the left margin across the length of the check to the right margin. The large line allows for extended entries, explained below.
Importance of Duplicate Entries
The dual amounts payable areas serve one purpose-to decrease the chances of having the amount changed. If a check is lost or stolen, the finder would have little trouble adjusting the amount authorized on the check if there was only a numeric entry. Simply adding the digit 1 in front of the amount would significantly impact the account standing, especially if the account holder didn’t know of the amount change.
The second entry is the safety valve on a check. The amount entered in the long line is in written form and must exactly match the numeric entry. The above example of an additional digit added to the numeric entry is considerably more difficult to accomplish when the written entry designates a different amount.
If the written entry does not exactly match the numeric entry, financial institutions or check cashing entities should not honor the check and allow it to be cashed or deposited. Should that happen, the account holder should dispute the debit from the account; if found the bank erred, the bank is responsible-not the account holder.
The first entry-the numeric entry-starts with the local currency; in the United States, use the dollar sign or $. Next, numerically enter the amount to be paid in dollars and cents. For example, an entry might read $2518.43.
The written entry just below that, extending from margin to margin, is annotated as: “Two thousand five hundred eighteen and 43/100 dollars.” Note in the whole dollars portion there is no “and” used. The “and” replaces the decimal point of the numeric entry. The cents portion is noted immediately after the “and” and is always written as the number of cents as part of one hundred pennies-a fraction form, the “43/100” entry. Finishing the entry is always the currency designation of the numeric entry, in this case, dollars in written form.
When extra space is left at the end of a line in either the payee or written amount areas, always draw a line from the last letter to the end of the line for safety.
US Department of the Treasury, FAQs: Currency; found at: http://www.ustreas.gov/education/faq/currency/legal-tender.shtml
Federal Deposit Insurance Company, FDIC; “Check Services,” found at: http://www.federalreserve.gov/paymentsystems/check_about.htm
Bank of America, Customer Service Department; 1-800-432-1000; found at: http://www.bankofamerica.com/