What to do with a Ripped, Torn, or Damaged Check

can you cash or deposit a ripped or torn check
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Do you have a check that’s ripped, torn, or damaged? You might have received a check from your job or family as a gift. Most of us would want to deposit it or cash it right away. But what happens if you accidentally rip or damage your check?

Before you go to the bank or check-cashing place to get cash, let’s see if they’ll accept it. A lot of times a ripped check won’t go through the machines that scan checks. But there are workarounds you can try that might let you cash your check.

Accidents happen all the time in life – and ripping a check is no exception. Let’s discover what our options are.

What to do with a Ripped, Torn, or Damaged Check

If you have a ripped or torn check, there’s still hope that it can be deposited or cashed.

Unless the rip is too severe, there’s a good chance the bank, check cashing place, or your banking app will accept it.

The best thing to do when you have a ripped check is to take it to your bank and just ask them if there’s anything they can do to cash or deposit it. They’ll try it fix the situation on their own so you don’t have to do any work trying to tape it back.

What Makes a Check Valid?

You may have received a check from your employer, someone who owes you money, or from an online survey site. So how do you know a check is good to cash?

Ensuring that the check is valid is the first step of the process of cashing or depositing a check. If these requirements are not done correctly, it doesn’t matter if the check is ripped, damaged, or whole – the bank won’t accept it. There are several characteristics of a valid check. These include:

  • Date the check was drawn
  • Name of the person/business the check is written for
  • Amount – written in numbers and spelled out
  • Signature of the person who writes the check
  • Signature of the person cashing/depositing the check
  • Account number and routing number visible on the bottom

If a check meets all these criteria without any damage or rips, it will have no problem going through the Magnetic Ink Character Recognition (MICR) machine.

Banks and check cashing places use the MICR machine to scan checks and process them. Checks are printed with a marked magnetic ink which the MICR machine reads and records when the check is scanned.

Let’s go over some common questions that people ask when they have a ripped or damaged check.

Is a Slightly Ripped Check Still Valid?

In most cases, you’ll be able to cash or deposit a slightly ripped check given that the important information is still readable and not torn out.

This includes the characteristics mentioned above – date, name, amount, signatures, and account number / routing number. If these are not visible or torn or damaged, it might be difficult to cash or deposit the check. This will depend on the bank or check cashing place you go to.

Can I Tape a Ripped Check?

If you have a ripped check, don’t try to tape it back yourself. Instead, take it to the bank and explain to the teller about your situation and ask if they can process it. Depending on the severity of the rip, the bank teller will tape the check back themselves and see if it will go through the MICR machine.

If the MICR machine can not process the check due to important information not going through the machine reading process, you’ll have to take the check back to the company or person that wrote you the check and request they write you a new one.

Can You Mobile Deposit A Ripped Check?

If you can put together the check where the rips are, your phone may be able to accept it.

It’s better to try depositing the check on your phone first using your bank’s mobile app. Align the pieces of the check properly to make it look as if it never was ripped and try depositing it.

Most banks these days have mobile apps so you should have no issue trying this method.

How Do You Cash A Ripped Check?

Like the depositing method, cashing a check is going to have similar steps.

Whether you go to a bank or a check cashing place to cash your check, getting the cash in your hands will depend on the level of rip or damage the check has. If the check can be processed through the MICR machine and meets the requirements I mentioned above, you’ll be able to cash your check.

How Long Is a Check Valid For?

Legally, banks are required to accept personal checks for 6 months from when they were written. After that, they expire and you’ll have to contact the person who wrote the check to issue a new one.

Some businesses, however, have ‘void after 90 days’ printed on their checks which the banks must honor.

Ifraz Chaudhry
Ifraz Chaudhry

Hi! I'm Ifraz. Big fan of personal finance and finding ways to make extra money. I started Fineedom to help you start that side hustle idea, make extra money, and manage it the right way!

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