It's such a great feeling to receive a check. It safely made it through the mail, you get to put it in your bank account soon, and you're already thinking of your next bank visit. After getting it, you look over it to make sure all the numbers and signatures are correct. But then you notice one major issue; you don't see an endorsement line. Every check you've received before had a place to endorse it. What do you even do with a check missing an endorsement line?
We can assure you that you can still collect the money. When you flip over the check, there are three spaces: a security box, a security screen, and usually a small endorsement section at the top. Simply endorse the check in the area that you would normally see lines for you to endorse. But be careful not to sign any lower than that. Most likely, you’ll see a warning to “not write, stamp, or sign below this line.”
Do you still have questions about your check that's missing an endorsement line? Continue reading for the specifics of handling a check like this. We'll also cover some other common questions when it comes to endorsing checks.
What To Do With A Check Without An Endorsement Line
If at any point you feel uncomfortable figuring out what to do, relax. You can still get your money. The best thing to do would be to go to the bank or check cashing office and ask to have them show you where to sign.
As long as you have proper identification with you at the time, the process will be nice and quick. For security purposes, sometimes it's best to wait to endorse the check. Anything can happen to the check from its arrival at the bank. It's best to temporarily have it blank until you arrive at the bank.
Do You Always Have To Sign The Back Of A Check?
Signing the back of the check is the standard rule of thumb for cashing or depositing a check. But there come times where you may forget to. Sometimes you hold off signing it until you walk into the bank ready to deposit. On a few occasions, skipping the signature is okay but it’s not ideal.
Below are situations where you do and don’t need to sign the back of the check.
Signing Over a Check to Someone Else
Situations may come up where you need to cash a check, but you’re not capable of doing it yourself. You can sign it over to someone you trust to cash it for you. In this case, signing a check is required because the check is originally made out to you; without your endorsement, it could come across as a theft attempt.
Steps for signing over a check to somebody else:
- Ensure that your bank accepts checks that have been signed over
- Endorse it in your name
- Underneath, write “Pay to the order of [full name of the third party]”
- The third-party will cash the check, and bring or transfer the money to you
Cashing It In At A Bank Or Other Location
For the easiest check cashing process, you’ll want to go to your bank or the one listed on the check. The identification or the cashing processes will go much quicker if you do so.
Additionally, you don’t necessarily have to endorse the check at one of those banks. Granted, you still should because if you don’t, it’ll take longer to get your money. But if you’re concerned with your information being visible, you’ll probably be successful in getting your money without a signature.
There are limits to how much you’re allowed to cash without an endorsement. That amount varies by bank. If the check is for a large amount, you will be required to sign the check.
With everyone in the world always on the go, stopping by a bank could be precious time wasted. That’s why many, if not all, banks allow you to cash your check using your phone. All you need to do is download your bank’s app, ensure all the information is correct, scan the front and back of the check, then wait for the money to hit your account.
To use mobile deposit, you will need to sign the check for it to process. In many cases, you have to write “for mobile deposit only.” If the app accepts the scans, you simply wait a few business days to successfully process them.
Who Can Endorse A Check?
Checks are meant to be endorsed by the person(s) or the business it’s intended to be received by. In some situations, this can be a little unclear. The information below should clear up any confusion.
When the check is made to one person, the person it’s made out to must be the one to endorse the check.
When the check is made to multiple people, it depends. Was the check made out to person one AND person two? If so, then both people must endorse the check. Either person can cash the check; it’s not required for both parties to be there.
Was the check made out to person one OR person two? If so, then as long as one of the parties endorses the check, it’s valid.
If you’re a business owner receiving a check, it’s likely made out to the business, not you. You (or anyone else authorized to endorse on behalf of the business) will need to endorse it for the business.
What Do You Write On The Back Of A Check To Deposit It?
Below are some instructions on what to write according to the situation.
For checks made out to you, but to be cashed by someone else
- Write “Pay to the order of [person’s name]”
- Sign your name underneath
When you’re almost ready to deposit
- Sign your name
- Tell the bank teller what you wish to do with the check OR insert the check into the ATM
For mobile deposits
- Sign your name
- Write “For mobile deposit only”
- Take a picture or scan the front and back of the check
For business payments
- Write the name of the business
- Sign your name
- Next to your name, write your title within the company
Can You Cash An Unsigned Check?
You may be in a predicament where the payer forgot to sign their name on the check before giving it to you. If this is the case, the best thing to do (although, the most time-consuming) is to mail it back noting that the payer forgot to sign. Then, wait for a returned, signed check ready for you to cash in.
But not everyone can wait to go through all of that. So you just try to cash it without the signature.
In some cases, you can successfully cash it. For example, Fraser Sherman from Sapling explains that if the check is part of a business transaction, the payee has to honor it. Additionally, if the payer purposefully didn’t sign, they will have needed to write a note under the endorsement that guarantees the money can be taken out of their account.
Considering the risk involved, like a bounced check, it’s best to only cash signed checks in case of an attempt of fraud.
As humans, we forget seemingly small details. With checks, that’s sometimes okay. But do your best to fill out all necessary fields. And make sure they’re filled out correctly. Making a mistake can come with its headaches, as we explain in another one of our articles: How To Correct A Mistake On A Check