For which alterations on a personal check in the US does one need to initial?

Crossing out one's old address on a personal check is possible. Crossing out an outdated address is not necessary in the first place, so does one need to initial if one decides to do so?

What about other possible alterations on a check? (Only certain alterations are possible. If someone knows which exactly, please improve this question.)

2 Answers 2


You should initial for any alteration made to the check. Article 3, section 407 of the Uniform Commercial Code, which deals with altered checks, specifies a wide array of actions that constitute an altered check, so you want to make sure that you've initialed for any change you make to the check that would constitute an "altered check" without such authorization.

(a) "Alteration" means (i) an unauthorized change in an instrument that purports to modify in any respect the obligation of a party, or (ii) an unauthorized addition of words or numbers or other change to an incomplete instrument relating to the obligation of a party.

If you need to change the amount, however, you're probably better off shredding the check. Remember that it's very easy for someone to commit fraud if they get your account number. If you don't have access to a shredder, see Victor's comment for an easy way to securely shred the check.

  • 1
    When I tear up a check or old credit card or anything like that, I cut it up into small pieces making it into a complex jigsaw puzzle and I make sure I cut across the account number a few time. I then place some parts in one waste bag and the rest in another.
    – Victor
    Commented May 18, 2013 at 21:52
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    @Victor That's fine. My office has an incinerator and I have a cross-cut shredder at home, so it's quicker for me to use those. Commented May 18, 2013 at 21:56
  • I am agreeing with you John and giving an option for those without a shredder.
    – Victor
    Commented May 18, 2013 at 22:14

I would say that any alteration would need to be initialled.

However, if you make a mistake on the amount payable on the cheque (check) or the payee details, I would suggest tearing up the cheque (check) and writing up a new one.


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