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Q gives me, P, a check with my routing number and account number in the "Pay to Order of" field. Can I cash it at my bank? P wants to be anonymous to Q. Q trusts P's services and only uses checks.


Uniform Commercial Code and California Commercial Code (§3110) both state the following:

A person to whom an instrument is payable may be identified in any way, including by name, identifying number, office, or account number. For the purpose of determining the holder of an instrument, the following rules apply:


It's more that I want to protect my identity. Carbon copies of the checks will have my name on them, and I don't know where they might end up. I'm just trying to throw in an extra step for identification in the hopes that it deters fraudulent behavior.

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    What country and can you elaborate more. When you say cash it, are you referring to walking to branch and getting cash or depositing into your account mentioned in Pay to order of. – Dheer Sep 10 '15 at 7:43
  • Just talked to the manager of my bank, and apparently putting account numbers in the "Pay to Order of" field is common only when the check is written to yourself from your other bank. Otherwise it would seem suspicious. It's recommended that you get a DBA. – Cvpkryuq Sep 10 '15 at 22:49
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You can have the check made out to "Cash" -- then it can be deposited by anyone, so treat it as if it were cash.

This method is more anonymous for the recipient because your banking codes are not written on the check when it is issued.

The payer may still be able to deduce where the check is eventually cashed or deposited, including the account number, be aware.

  • There is no safeguard against post-deposit deduction? Also, do you have any documentation on the legality of this "Cash" method? – Cvpkryuq Sep 10 '15 at 16:42
  • "Cash" or "bearer", checks are certainly legal in the US. As noted, they may not be completely anonymous; if you're doing something illegal, stick with currency .. though even that may not be enough. – keshlam Sep 10 '15 at 17:14
  • Nothing illegal. Hmm... If I ask to make the check payable to "CASH," that makes you think "Illegal." If that is the case, I don't want to do that. I need trust and anonymity. Is that impossible? – Cvpkryuq Sep 10 '15 at 17:26
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    No,"cash" doesn't make me think illegal. Your insistence that you need extreme anonymity does. – keshlam Sep 10 '15 at 22:21
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    @Cvpkryuq why not ACH? Don't know what makes you think that putting your routing+account number on a check is safer than putting your name... – littleadv Sep 11 '15 at 1:07
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... a check with my routing number and account number in the "Pay to Order of" field

I understand your desire for anonymity, but this is not a good solution. You are exposing your account number and routing number to anyone who might see the check.

Having them make the check payable to "CASH" is certainly a good solution, but it requires that the person writing the check "trusts" you highly. The problem with Writing a check payable to "CASH", is there is no guarantee that the person that eventually cashes the check is the same person that the check was written for.

Consider these 2 scenarios:

  1. Person 1 (John) writes a check made payable to CASH, and gives it to Person 2 (Jane) as payment for an item or a service. At some point, Jane loses the check and someone else (Bob) finds the lost check and cashes it. John would have no recourse (or very little) against Bob for cashing the check, and Jane could claim she was still owed the money from John. John's check was paid, but he has nothing to prove that he paid Jane.

  2. John writes a check made payable to CASH, and gives it to Jane as above. Jane is really dishonest and she gives the check to her friend (Sally) who lives in another state. Sally deposits the check and Jane claims she never received payment from John.

When you deposit the check (or cash it), you will have to (endorse) sign your name on the back of the check, and the check (or an image of it) will be returned to the person who wrote the check. For many (perhaps most) US banks, endorsing the check might be optional, but probably will be required for a check made payable to CASH, or to "routing number and account number", so using either of these for total anonymity probably won't work.

The other option would be for the person to pay you using "Bill Pay" from their checking account, making the payment to "You" (your name) with your checking account number and bank name and address (and possible routing number). This payment will be made electronically through the ACH system and there will be no paper check or copies of it returned to the person making the payment. And the deposit will be made to your account without your signature.

Keep in mind that a copy of a check when it was written or after it was cashed, is not the only place your name might appear. Even if you are paid in actual cash (currency) there is likely to be other records existing like receipts or purchase orders that will have your name on them.

protected by Chris W. Rea Jan 15 '18 at 22:09

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