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I received a check personally written to me from a family member.

The family member that wrote & sent me the check wrote where you write out the amount of what the check is suppose to be for, in words, "Fifty Dollars-------00/00". Then, in the box above where you write the amount with numbers, they wrote "25.00". They signed the check and mailed it to me to cash.

What should I do?

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I made a mistake like that on a check once and it got cashed based on the numbers (automatic OCR, I presume). It shouldn't have been, by law it should have bounced, but if dealt with automatically it may slip. –  littleadv Feb 4 '12 at 4:22
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This is getting silly. It is a family member for crying out loud! Call him/her and say "Uncle Jimmy/Aunt Sally, you gave me a check, many thanks by the way, but there seems to be a mix-up in the way the check is written. I am sending it back to you so that you can decide what to do." Then, sit back. If another check comes, properly made out, write a nice thank you note; no e-mails. If not, keep your mouth shut and don't go asking for the check again. –  Dilip Sarwate Mar 16 '12 at 22:23
    
+1 Dilip Sarwate. However, it's upto the recipient bank to decide. I guess they will choose the lower amount if they don't bounce the check –  f1StudentInUS Mar 17 '12 at 20:21
    
@f1StudentInUS My point is that if Uncle Jimmy really wanted to give $25 and the check was cashed for $50, he is going to be a tad upset with OP AMK, not with any bank; and this could be avoided quite simply. And no, as several people have pointed out in the answers, if the bank does not bounce the check, it will be honored for the word amount, not the figure amount. If Uncle Jimmy's bank refuses to honor the check, it will come back to AMK's bank who will charge him a fee for depositing a bum check. And everyone will still refuse to consider a simple way of avoiding this. –  Dilip Sarwate Mar 18 '12 at 19:12
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4 Answers

I gather you are from the US, as you spell it check whilst in Australia we spell it cheque, but I am sure the rules should be the same in Australia as in the US in regargds to your question.

If the word and number amounts are different the bank or financial institution won't accept the check, so you either have to get the person who issued and signed the check to correct one of the amounts so that both amounts are the same and initial the correction, or else get them to send you a new check with both amounts matching and destroy the first check. You will probably have less troubles though with a brand new check.

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Australia and US are not the only 2 countries that use Dollars. :) –  Dheer Feb 3 '12 at 4:38
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But as far as I know they are the only ones that spell cheque as check, which is what I was referring to. ;-) –  Victor Feb 3 '12 at 5:51
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How about Canada, eh? –  DJClayworth Feb 3 '12 at 15:10
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Canada spells it as 'cheque', generally. At least, western Canada does. I see DJClayworth is in Ontario... maybe it is different there? –  ChrisInEdmonton Feb 3 '12 at 15:21
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This answer is based on my recent experience (past 6 months) depositing a check in the U.S. The check in question was mismatched such that the spelled-out amount was approximately $50 less than the numeric amount. The check was deposited via an online transaction with a scanned image. The discrepancy was not caught by the bank until a few days later and I received an email notifying me of the error. The check was accepted by the bank, however at the amount spelled-out in words. I spoke personally with a bank representative who informed me that the check was indeed valid as written but the spelled-out amount takes precedent. This seems like a bizarre protocol to me as it will almost surely result in some party experiencing an unexpected transaction amount. That being said, and to answer the question, if the spelled-out amount is correct you should let the other party know about the discrepancy, let them know you intend to deposit it that way, and go ahead an deposit it making sure to check (no pun intended) with your bank that they'll accept it as-is and not accuse you of fraud.

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When I worked at a bank in the US doing IT, they told me the word version takes precedent. –  SchwartzE Mar 16 '12 at 20:30
    
The reason for taking amount in words is amount in figures one is likely to make errors in placements, say for example one Hundred and one thousand and 10; ie 101,010 while writing its easy to make an error as 300110 or 110010, this is true for number which have zeros in combination with other numbers. It is difficult to make such errors in amount in words –  Dheer Mar 19 '12 at 10:53
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A new cheque is suggested. In many countries, in case of mismatch amount in word is accepted. In few countries, these cheques are rejected. Suggest, get a new cheque. If you have to get the old cheque initialed, you will have to send them the cheque and get it back.

BTW, in India, we too write cheque and not check.

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A check or draft must describe a certain sum of money to be paid to the drawer (the person presenting it). If there is ambiguity about the amount of money to be paid, it is not valid.

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