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I accidentally submitted a check today where I put the wrong cents amount in the written portion, i.e. "Two hundred nine and 00/100", and put the correct amount in the number portion, "209.53". The check is being paid to the state department; will the correct amount get accepted, or will it be rejected?

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If the check is paid, the written words would take precedence. So if it is paid, it should be paid for 209.00 as written. However, it may take some time for the bank to notice the discrepancy. It is possible that it would be paid for 209.53 and then a 53 cent correction would subsequently be made.

It is also possible that the recipient would reject the check because the amounts don't match rather than cashing it and spending time dealing with any corrections that are made. Conceivably, the bank might reject the check but that would generally only happen if they thought the discrepancy was the result of attempted fraud (i.e. someone added the "53" to the courtesy line) and it seems unlikely anyone would commit check fraud to add 53 cents to a check amount.

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    In the UK figures are the 'courtesy' amount; the words are the 'legal' amount, and that is what would normally be taken if in doubt. However the application by banks is inconsistent and some will only take the lower amount - whichever that is. And some banks won't accept it mismatched cheques at all. When I worked in payment processing for a large UK body, we used to send back any cheques that weren't 100% correct, including differing words/figures. Jun 3, 2023 at 13:24
  • I tagged the question as US-related. In some countries mismatched amounts would render the check invalid.
    – littleadv
    Jun 3, 2023 at 18:34
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    Given that this is the state department, there is a chance they will take the routing and account number and just debt the correct amount via an e-check. The actual check will never make it back through to the bank in this case and no one will see the discrepancy.
    – rtaft
    Jun 3, 2023 at 23:14
  • @rtaft: I recently renewed my US passport (which is almost certainly the service that OP is purchasing, based on the price), and the check number does appear in my bank statement, which suggests to me that they processed the paper check as such rather than doing a whole transaction from scratch. Curiously, it is marked as an "ACH" transaction rather than a check, but I assume that's just because all of this stuff gets settled electronically these days, rather than because they actually transformed the check into a different sort of transaction.
    – Kevin
    Jun 4, 2023 at 8:59
  • @Kevin I too recently renewed my US Passport, the entry on my statements looks like PASSPORTSERVICES PAYMENT SERIAL NUMBER: #### PCTB############ 00000000000#### where a normal check looks like CHECK 00000000000####. There is NO check image available, which is what made me think of this.
    – rtaft
    Jun 4, 2023 at 22:56

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