Writing checks - why line out after the amount?

I’ve wondered this for a while now - I was taught that when you write a check, you should line out any remaining space after the amount:

Sixty Three and 90/100 ------------------------

I’ve seen other people do this as well, so it’s not just me. Has any aspiring criminal ever actually tried to get more money out of a check by adding something to that line?

Sixty Three and 90/100 AND ONE BILLION DOLLARS :rolleyes:

Of course, the numerical amount would then not match the long-hand amount. So why the line? Is there some kind of historical basis for this?

(Can you tell I’m paying my bills now?):frowning:

No but…
One hundred ----------------------
without the line could easily be changed to
One hundred and eighty

And it probably wouldn’t be hard to change the numbers 100 to 180 as well.

>> One hundred ----------------------
>> without the line could easily be changed to
>> One hundred and eighty

You would do better changing it to “One hundred thousand” and add some zeroes to the numbers.

People still use checks? Why?

Seriously, a 20/20 that I saw (I think it was 20/20) showed them cashing checks that had VOID written in black magic marker 2" high across the check.

They are all read by computer. They scan the bank routing number, customer account number, and the amount in the little box. People don’t really look at them except maybe the box, if the computer fails to read it.

I don’t know if this is a universal English thing, but all my relatives when I was younger would write things like

“Twenty pounds only”

So now I do that on my cheques also… no need to worry about people adding stuff on to it…

Writing the cents as a fraction xx/100 in addition to putting the line there is really just a combination of two security devices (along with writing both the words and numerals) to make it harder to mess with the check.

Well, I was taught to spell it all out, and use the word “only” at the beginning.

So $180.32 ends up with


It’s not so bad, except for the time I lived in the Bay Ara and paid my monthly rent …


I was taught to write it out too, but not to add only.

Maybe I’m paranoid, but I also line out the empty space in the Payee line.

My dad worked at a bank for 25 years and in a few cases check forgers add stuff to the payee line so they can cash the check.

Yeah, okay. I’m paranoid. :slight_smile:

I recall that for a few years I was under the impression that the written amount had to be done in cursive. It was the only thing I used cursive for, and it was quite the relief to drop it completely (I don’t count my signature as being cursive, as very little in it resembles an actual cursive letter).

The written amount does not have to be in cursive. I always line to the end to prevent alterations. If there is a difference between the amount stated in numbers and the amount written out, the amount written out will prevail. So, someone can alter that line and not worry about chaning the numerical value in the prior line.

I know a guy who had that very thing happen to him. Someone stole the outgoing mail from his box, including a couple of bills he was paying. In one case, where the check had been to “Richard Roe”, the thief or thieves just added “or Jane Doe”, then “Jane Doe” cashed the check. The handwriting of the “or Jane Doe” part didn’t really match the rest of the check very well. (In the other case, they just kind of doodled over the name of the actual payee, an insurance company, so that it kinda sorta looked like it said “Jane Doe” if you didn’t really look at it hard.) I don’t know if they were relying on general apathy or overwork by the bank’s employees, or if they had an inside person at the bank to help them fraudulently cash the checks.

Anyway, after seeing that, I usually put little lines to take up any blank space in any of the critical fields of any check I write.

Incidentally, this sort of thing is also a good reason to try to make your bank keep sending you the cancelled checks–or at least an “image statement” of them–with your monthly statement.

In theory perhaps, but not in practice. I had a check where the numbers and the written amount did not agree. I deposited it as the number amount. The teller didn’t notice and I got credited by the number amount. If you’re only going to give the check a quick glance, you will go by the number amount.

Supposedly you’re also supposed to write the “and” part diagonally so no one tries to put “Thous” in front of it. (As in: Sixty-three THOUSand 90/100------")

And yes people do try to add stuff to checks. A friend of mine has a whole shifty side of her family that are constantly trying to scam people, one of the ways being to add zeros to the number amounts on checks, etc. (I think in this sort of discussion the best you’re going to do is FOAF anecdotes, as no one would actually fess up to doing it.)