How to Cash a Torn, Ripped, or Damaged Check

So you’ve got some money to deposit in the bank, maybe a paycheck, or perhaps birthday money. You’re ready to take your check to the bank, and then life happens.

Perhaps the check gets crumpled or ripped in the bottom of a purse or backpack, or you accidentally tear it in some way. You suddenly have a torn check or one that is damaged – oh no!

There are many ways that a check can get damaged unintentionally, and it can create a problem. What can you do when something like this happens?

Does this mean that the check is no longer usable? It can take time to replace and can be a hassle. It’s frustrating to be in this situation, so if you need to cash a torn, ripped, or damaged check, here’s what to do.

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woman holding phone over paper check on desk for mobile check deposit

What Happens if You Tear a Check?

First things first, if you tear a check, you need to assess the damage and see what is still readable. Find out how bad the tear or damage is before you get too concerned.

This will help you decide if you need a new check. A bank teller may be able to help you if the tear is tiny and you can still see the necessary information, but if the check is ripped in half, a do-over could be required.

Assess Check Damage

Before anything, see if the details on the check are still readable. Is the information still clear?

How big is the tear – is it a large rip covering most of the check, or is it a small one you can barely see? This may make a difference in cashing the check. 

Here are the things that matter most:

  1. Amount – the amount of money the check is for.
  2. Date – the date it was written.
  3. Payee Name – your name, showing the check is for you to cash.
  4. Payer Name – the person who wrote the check.
  5. Routing Number – the number on the bottom of the check that gives the routing information.
  6. Account Number – the account number on the bottom of the check.
  7. Issuer – this is the bank name/address that issued the check
blank check pointing out the information needed if the check is damaged

Unfortunately, if any of these details are not legible, you will need to obtain a new check. Inform your employer or ask the person who gave it to you to rewrite it, and make sure the damaged one is voided.

While this can be a bit of a nuisance, they will understand, especially if the check was already damaged when you got it. If you are the one who ripped the check, make sure to ask politely and be patient about getting a new one. 

How Do I Deal With a Ripped Check?

Your first instinct might be to repair the check in some way with tape or something. Don’t do this!

The best thing you can do for this is to take the check to a teller at your bank and see what can be done. Explain to them what happened, and they may be able to assist you.

Remember to be polite, explain how the check was ripped, and ask nicely for help.

Is a Ripped Check Still Valid?

There’s not a way to answer this easily because it totally depends. It depends on the bank where you are trying to cash the check.

It also matters how extensive the damage is. So, the check may still be valid, but perhaps not.

Ask a bank teller to see what they can do to help you in this situation. They may have specific policies they need to follow, but they are still the best people to help you with this. 

Can I Deposit a Ripped Check?

If you find that your check is ripped, the best thing to do is take it to a bank teller and see if you can still deposit it. You will not be able to cash the check through an ATM; it will require asking someone who works at the bank. 

Can You Cash a Ripped Check?

This will depend on the policy of your bank. That’s why it’s best to bring the check to the bank and ask them directly.

They may be able to do something to help you and keep you from needing to get a new check from the person who wrote it. But remember that there is always a chance that your bank will not accept a ripped check, and you will need to get a new one. Always be respectful of their policies.

How to Cash a Torn Check

If your check is torn, the first thing you can do is take it to the bank. Remember to be polite and explain the problem to a bank teller.

Then ask them if they’d be willing to cash the check. They may be able to assist you. 

If they’re able to accept your torn check, you’ll cash it like you would an un-torn check. It usually requires signing the back of the check that’s addressed to you.

If the check has someone else’s name as the payee, you’ll first need them to sign the check over to you. This isn’t a common occurrence though and would only be under specific circumstances.

Can You Mobile Deposit a Ripped Check?

Even if you usually make mobile deposits for your checks, some banks will not accept a damaged check in this way. So you may not be able to mobile deposit a damaged check.

If you deposit a ripped or damaged check through mobile, wait a few days and make sure the check clears. If you just assume that the money went through and spend it, you may get charged overdraft fees if the check does not clear. 

Should You Even Use Checks?

With all of the potential for inconvenience, you may find yourself wondering if you should even use checks at all. For the most part, it’s best to use direct deposits if you can or platforms like Venmo, Apple Pay, or PayPal.

But you should still know how to cash a check and be ready to do so for particular circumstances, like if someone gives you money for a holiday or a side job. So no, checks should not be your usual form of payment, but it’s good to have the option when you need it. 

Make Direct Deposits for Paychecks

You know what saves you a ton of time and makes worrying about torn checks irrelevant? Direct deposits.

Giving your employer the ability to put money in your bank account bypasses the entire check system. It makes it faster for you to access your money.

If you can, set this up with your employer, so you never have to think about cashing a damaged check, waiting for a check in the mail, or using a mobile deposit system. 

Related: What Happens to My Direct Deposit if My Bank Account Closed?

When You First Get a Check, Make Sure it Isn’t Damaged Right Away

When you first get a check in the mail or from someone, take a look at it right away. If you notice any damage, ask the person right then to rewrite it.

This will cut down on any problems with cashing it in the future. It’s best to take care of this right away, so you don’t have to deal with it later.

If you receive the check by mail and notice a tear or damage, first ask a bank teller what can be done to cash the check. If they can’t accept it, ask the person who wrote it to write you another one. 

How to Avoid Damaging a Check

If a check is given to you and is already damaged, there may be little you can do. But when it comes to protecting your check until you can cash it, there are a few things that can help.

First, store the check in a safe place. Don’t fold it up and cram it into a wallet or purse.

Try to keep it in a desk drawer or pressed between the pages of a book or planner to help it lie flat and avoid damage.

Next, cash the check as soon as possible. With mobile deposits, this is easy. It’s best to cash the check the same day if you can.

If you need to go to the bank, do so at your earliest convenience. Make sure to keep the check safe until you can get to the bank, which may take a few days if it’s a holiday or a weekend.

Last, you can avoid checks entirely by working with direct deposits and cash when appropriate. You might also switch to online payments.

That way, there’s no risk of damage to a check, which can take up extra time and make it challenging to deposit the funds.

You May Be Able to Cash a Torn Check or One That is Damaged

There’s no other way to say it – a damaged check can be downright annoying, especially if you’re in a hurry to cash it. But you may be able to talk to a bank teller and get the damaged check cashed anyway.

There are also ways to keep your check safe until you can deposit it, and sometimes you can avoid checks entirely. A torn check is frustrating, but it doesn’t have to mess up your day, and there are a few easy solutions if you find that it’s damaged. 

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Steffa Mantilla

Certified Financial Education Instructor

Steffa is a Certified Financial Education Instructor (CFEI) and the founder behind Money Tamer. Her 12-year background in operant conditioning and positive behavioral change training is used to help people find effective motivators to change their harmful money behaviors. Steffa explains the reasons “why” behind people’s financial behaviors and how to successfully change them. After paying off over $80,000 in debt through budgeting, she now teaches families how to get their own finances in order. You can learn more about her here.

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