Very few people are lucky enough to have their name spelled correctly on all their checks and documents. Spelling mistakes on checks, even paychecks and rebate checks, are common. Even when the name looks straightforward, a tired writer or typist can easily slip up.
As a result, banks are used to seeing mistakes on the “Paid To” line. This means that it’s not particularly hard to endorse a check when your name is spelled wrong.
Endorsing the check
When endorsing the check, sign the check the way your name is spelled on the check, then sign your name directly underneath, correctly. If your signature is not very legible, print your name with the correct spelling underneath your signature.
When endorsing a check where your name is printed incorrectly, it’s best to deposit the check to your account, either through a teller or through an ATM. Banks are much less picky about accepting checks for deposit than when a check is to be cashed. It’s also a good idea to deposit the check at a bank where you have had an account for a long time.
When cashing checks in a large amount, your bank may check your signature against the one on file. The teller may ask you to endorse the check in front of him. He may also ask you for identification.
If the mistake in your name is a major one or the check is very large, your bank may be reluctant to accept the endorsed check. Alternately, the bank may place a hold on those funds until the check clears. If all else fails, contact the person or organization which sent you the check, and ask for a replacement check.
A word of caution
Before trying to endorse any check where your name is spelled incorrectly, make sure the check is intended for you and not for someone else whose name is close to yours. This kind of mistake is especially likely if you receive a check you were not expecting.
If you accept a check directly from a person in return for goods or services, you can be sure that it is meant for you. Check the spelling and amount immediately. That way, if your name is misspelled or the amount is off, you can ask the other person to correct it on the spot.
A payroll check can be checked against the employee number. A government rebate check will have your Social Security Number or other identifying number on it. A business check for services rendered should have the invoice number on it.
However, a mailed check, especially one which you were not expecting, could be intended for a different person, even if your address is correct. Most modern checks are printed with the telephone number of the sender. Before cashing the check, call the sender and confirm that the check is intended for you.
If you cash a check which is not intended for you, you will have to pay the money back when the bank finds out. You may also have to pay interest and possibly a bank fee. Depended on the circumstances, you could even be charged with fraud.