Writing checks for cash?

My son wants to buy something from someone he met online. This person instructed him to send a check, made out to ‘cash.’ Why would he want this done? Way back in the days before ATMs, I used to write checks to ‘cash’ at my bank, but I’ve never done it since, nor has anyone ever asked me to. It just seems odd to me, so I told Nick (who doesn’t have a checking account anyway) to hold off on the transaction until I double checked.

Writing a note out to cash (such as a check) means that it can be cashed by anyone. This is still a valid way to do business, however, suspicious in this circumstance. It implies the person is not doing business as who he says he is. I wouldn’t send my personal check, but if your son really wants whatever it is, get a cashier’s check from a bank or a money order from a grocery store or currency exchange made out to cash. It will cost you about $1 depending on where you go, but well worth protecting your personal bank account from someone who appears to have something to hide.

Well, it would be an easy way for a dishonest person to have someone else cash the check and then claim it was lost. Yes, the person who actually cashed it would have to sign the back, but perhaps a dishonest person would count on it being a giant pain in the butt to have the bank track down the signer and get the money back. I bet the bank wouldn’t get the money anyway; they’d provide the name of the signer and it would be up to your son to contact the police.

Or a dishonest person could have a fake ID that he uses to cash the check, so that “person” is never going to be found.

Upon preview: having a cashier’s check made out to cash doesn’t help the sender. He has still paid for that check and isn’t going to get the money back once it’s cashed.

Other reasons to have something made out to cash would be because he is trying to hide income from the government or because he doesn’t have a bank account and wants to use your check to pay off his own debts.

Obviously the proposed recipient does NOT want his identification to become known. A Pay “To:” check requires he make his identity known to you. When cashing the check he may also be required to provide more information to the bank.

Always consider the worst case first then alternatives.

On the other hand he may not have a checking or savings account and would have difficulty cashing a check made out in his name. My bank, and most others, now require that you include your account number with your signature when either cashing or depositing a check. :rolleyes:

A couple of clarifications:

  1. A bank will not issue an official check payable to “cash”. The bank wants proof positive that the payee and endorser are one and the same in order to fend off problems like missbunny mentions. An official check is the bank’s liability. A money order might work.

  2. Making the payee “cash” will not help get the check cashed at a bank if the endorser does not have an account. The bank will still want ID and an acount number before cashing the check.

The only reason I can think of for requesting a checkmade to “cash” is to keep the seller’s identity secret. That in itself would be a red flag to me.

You can buy a Postal Money Order up to $1,000 for $0.90 at any P.O.

Information at:


No hassels when cashing.

He doesn’t want to be identified. Some reasons he might not want to be identified are: the item is hot, or illegal, (like a cable box) or he bought something with stolen credit cards to sell online.

The point was, I believe, that a cashier’s check wouldn’t have the routing number for your checking account printed on it, as a personal check would. I agree that both ways are equally risky in terms of getting what you’ve paid for.


This was my thought. The item in question in some sort of weightlifting supplement. Nick told me it was legal (not steroids, which it’s too cheap to be anyway), but I didn’t double-check and I can’t remember now what the stuff was. Anyway, it still sounds dicey as hell. Nick just turned 18, so I don’t have as much power as I used to in terms of not letting him buy this crap he’s so fascinated by. However, he doesn’t have a bank account, and I already told him I wouldn’t send anyone a check on my account made out to ‘cash.’ So his only option will be to get a money order – and, since he doesn’t have a car, nor any idea of how to buy a money order, I’m thinking this will all go away. Thanks everyone!

Has your son talked about this supplement with his trainer? If the trainer thinks its legit (or at least not likely to be harmful) he should be able to get it through a nutrition store.

For all anyone knows, the online seller may be repackaging powdered sugar and selling it online.

FWIW, when my son the weightlifter was going through his supplement phase, I couldn’t do anything to talk him out of it. I asked a friend of mine who went through the same stage in college. His solution – let him take the supplement, but insist he also takes two tablespoons of wheat germ a day. It’s nutritious, it doesn’t have any harmful ingredients, and if he tries to overexert himself, he’ll find out it’s also a laxative.

I noticed my son quit taking the supplements after a short time.

I’d be VERY leery about going with any ‘supplement’ sold by someone acting shady. How the heck would you know it wasn’t poison or something?

Any over-the-counter weightlifting supplement will be sold in any local GNC or similar store. Stick with those. Not with something somebody is selling anonymously on the 'net.

Have you had that talk about money and finances yet? If not, do you really think it will all go away? Or will he need to get burned on a bad transaction to learn?

Also you can not request a “stop payment” on a check made out to “cash”.

True, but every time anyone mails a check, let’s say to pay a bill, it passes through many people. Any one of them now knows the account number and routing number and the sender has no idea who any of those people are.

Well, the supplement is 1-AD, some sort of pro-hormone stuff that I’m not crazy about him taking, but I (like kunilou with her son) haven’t had any luck talking him out of. When he was 17 I could (and did) flatly refuse to let him take them. And because they all have to be ordered online, I was usually able to make this stick. But now he’s 18 and I can’t forbid him to buy stuff that’s legal.

However, I did tell him that I didn’t like this particular setup and I explained why. He doesn’t see my point about the writing-the-check-to-cash thing. He thinks that this guy is legit (he is a mod on Nick’s favorite bodybuilding site), and that it isn’t remarkable that he doesn’t want his name known. The story is that this guy bought too much of the 1-AD last time he ordered it and now wants to unload some of it. The price is good, apparently, but not so amazingly good that it’s obvious the stuff is hot or anything. It’s about $9 below what the usual best price would be. So maybe the guy is on the up-and-up. But I told Nick that I had a flat policy against doing business under those circumstances (writing a check to cash) and I wouldn’t do it. I further told him that, on principle, I wouldn’t pick him up a money-order or drive him to 7-11 or the post office to get one. He’ll have to find a ride on his own if he insists on going ahead. To tell you the truth, I’m really just trying to make it as difficult as possible for him to buy the stuff because I don’t want him to take it. Hopefully, it’ll get sold to someone who has easier access to banks and banking before Nick gets his shit together and figures out how to make it happen.