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Someone wrote me a check but left the legal line (i.e., the line where the check amount is spelled out with words) blank.

I tried to deposit it at the counter at my local Bank of America, and the teller said they won't accept it without the legal line filled out.

Most things I've read online say that the legal line shouldn't have to be filled out in order to deposit a check as long as everything else is complete (which it is). I'm tempted to try depositing the check through an ATM and hope it just goes through. Is that a bad idea?

Tracking down the person who wrote the check in order to get him to fill out the missing information has proven difficult, unfortunately.

The check is from a Bank of America account and the only account I have to deposit it into is also Bank of America, in case that matters. (In case it's not clear, I'm in the United States.)

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At the end of the day, although you are correct that there is no regulation explicitly requiring the written amount to be filled out, it's up to the bank to decide if they will accept the check or not - they are allowed to reject checks they can't decipher or checks which they suspect are fraudulent. Essentially, they're making a decision about liability in the case that the check is fraudulent or processed incorrectly - they don't want to be left on the hook in such a case. And since the legal line is essentially there to prevent fraud via making it obvious when someone has been tampering with the amount written numerically in the courtesy box, it's very common for banks to suspect checks that do not have both filled out.

Your best option is to continue to try to contact the party who wrote the check and pursue another method of payment - or get them to fill in the missing information, as long as it's done with the same ink color.

Using an ATM or RDC to deposit the check will likely not work, as that forces the check image through software which is written to look for missing or suspect information on the paper check. If you cannot contact the person who wrote the check, you may want to try again at a branch and/or ask to speak to a supervisor or manager at the bank and explain the situation.

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    Just fill it in yourself and deposit at the ATM. BofA won’t do handwriting analysis. – danielricecodes Jun 7 at 2:55
  • I hesitated to recommend that because it's a bit "unofficial" (and may tip off a teller) but it will almost certainly work, especially at an ATM, which is typically the channel with by far the least scrutiny. – dwizum Jun 7 at 12:41
  • I suggest Mobile Deposit is even better as a small difference in ink color will be invisible. – Andrew Lazarus Jun 7 at 22:12

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