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How to sign over a check

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    Quick insights

    • To sign over a check that is made out to you, normally you’ll add information and your signature to the check so that a new recipient can cash or deposit it.
    • Signing over a check may be a rare occurrence nowadays, but there are still situations when knowing how to do so can help you.
    • Before you sign over a check to someone, you should confirm the recipient’s bank will accept a signed-over check and then endorse the check properly.

    Signing over a check means taking a physical check that is written out to you and endorsing another person to cash or deposit that check. This can be a rare situation these days given the prevalence of paper check alternatives, such as direct deposit and peer-to-peer payment platforms. Nevertheless, it can be good to know how to sign over a check properly.

    When you might need to sign over a check

    Despite today’s increasingly digital economy, you still might want (or need) to sign over a check in certain cases. These are some of the most common situations:

    • To transfer a check to someone else, so they can cash it. Example: You might do this to pay for something or offer a gift.
    • To correct an error with the recipient field. Example: If the check is made out to you instead of the primary account holder where the check is going to be deposited.
    • To get help cashing the check. Example: If you can’t use mobile banking or physically get to your bank branch for cashing a check in person.

    How you can sign over a check

    In general, the process of signing over a check to change the recipient can be straightforward. Here’s how you can sign over a check and protect your information at the same time:

    1. Determine the recipient

    Assuming the check is written out to you, the recipient can be an individual, group of people or company. First, determine whether the recipient is willing to accept the signed-over check and exactly how the name should be written.

    2. Confirm the recipient’s bank will accept the check

    Before you start marking up the check, confirm that the financial institution (or other service) will accept a signed-over check. While many banks do, some do not, in order to manage risks.

    3. Sign the back of the check

    The next step is signing (endorsing) your name on the back of the check in blue or black ink. On the back of the check, you’ll see a signature line at the top where you sign your name as it appears in the payee field.

    4. Include “pay to the order of” and write the recipient’s name

    This is the critical step that changes the payee written on the check from you to a new recipient. In the check’s current state, your name is in the payee field on the front of the check. In the endorsement area on the back of the check, at the top, use blue or black ink to write “Pay to the order of” followed by the new recipient’s name.

    This step tells the bank you are officially endorsing the transfer of funds to the new recipient. Your signature from the previous step serves as your authorization.

    5. Give the recipient the check to cash

    Once the physical check is signed over, you can pass it to the recipient. If you have the opportunity, you can accompany the recipient to a branch location. This can offer everyone, including the financial institution, some extra assurance. Otherwise, if their bank allows it, the new check recipient can use mobile deposit.

    Alternatives to signing over a check

    You may want or need to consider a different approach to signing over a check, depending on the situation. For one, you could use a check-cashing service, particularly when a recipient’s bank or credit union doesn’t accept signed-over checks. You may need to weigh any fees for using this type of service.

    There are also other payment methods you could use to transfer money to someone, such as cash or depositing the check as written. If you decide to use cash, you can give it directly to the recipient. Otherwise, you may be able to use digital means to send money to the other party, such as a wire transfer or a peer-to-peer payment app.

    Avoiding check scams

    When signing over checks, you may have to be wary of check-cashing scams. Physical checks have long been vulnerable to financial scams. This is mostly because checks can display significant personal information — names, an address and a signature — along with bank account and routing numbers.

    If a paper check falls into the wrong hands, you may be subject to check fraud.

    In conclusion

    You can provide someone with funds in many ways, such as giving cash, writing a check or even signing over a check. Although signing over a check to someone may no longer be a popular option, you may encounter it, so you’ll want to know the process in case you do.

    When signing over a check is not an option, consider using other, secure forms of payment. Remember, changing money requires care and attention to protect your personal finances.

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