At some point in your financial life, you’re likely to want to sign over a check to someone else instead of depositing it or cashing it. Maybe you received a check but don’t currently have a bank account so a friend will cash the check for you. Or perhaps you want to endorse a check you received and give it to your landlord as part of your rent payment.
To sign a check over to someone else isn’t hard, but you do need to follow the right protocol. In a few simple steps, the check can be ready for processing by the person you’re giving it to.
Here’s a quick guide on how to sign over checks to someone else, plus some points to consider before accepting a check that has been endorsed to you.
5 Steps to Signing Over a Check
Generally, when someone writes you a check, you (the payee) are the only person who can cash it or deposit it into your bank account.
But can you sign a check over to someone else? Yes. These five steps detail how to sign a check over to someone else (you may hear a check that’s been signed over referred to as a “third-party check,” incidentally).
1. Make Sure the Check is Still Good
Before you begin the process of signing over a check, it’s a good idea to take a look at the date it was written by the payer, especially if the check has been lying around for a while.
How long are checks good for? Generally, checks are good for six months. After that, the bank may refuse to accept it.
(This is true for both business and personal checks, incidentally.)
If the bank does accept a check older than six months, the check could potentially bounce if the issuer no longer has the funds in their account.
2. Get the Okay From the Recipient
Before endorsing a check to a third party, whether that’s a person, a business, or a landlord, it can be wise to first reach out to that third party and confirm that they are open to accepting this form of payment.
When moving through the signing over process, it’s important that you and the recipient both agree to the transfer.
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3. Verify the Bank Will Allow the Signed Over Check
Banks often have different rules and requirements when it comes to accepting third-party checks.
To help ensure the process will go smoothly, it can be a good idea to call the recipient’s bank and ask about their policies before you endorse the check.
That way, you can avoid adding extra signatures and names to the back of the check (which can create confusion and delays if you later need to cash or deposit it somewhere else).
You may also want to find out what kind of identification the recipient will need to bring to the bank or if there is anything special they should do or know before bringing the check to the bank.
4. Endorse The Check Correctly
The next step in how to sign a check over is to endorse or sign it. Checks that typically come in your checkbook have an area on the back that reads “Endorse Check Here.”
On the line just below that, you will want to sign your name in pen, writing it just as it appears on the front of the check.
Underneath your signature, you’ll then want to write, “Pay to the order of [Recipient’s name].”
It’s a good idea to clearly write out the recipient’s name as it appears on their driver’s license or other photo identification they will use at the bank when depositing the check.
Check’s often say “do not write, stamp or sign below this line” beneath the endorsement area. You’ll want to try to avoid running into this area. If you do, the bank may refuse the check.
Recommended: How to Write a Check to Yourself
5. Transfer the Check
Once you’ve endorsed the check, you will have a “third party check” that you can give to the person you signed it over to so that they cash or deposit the check into their bank account.
While it may not be essential, you may also want to consider accompanying the recipient to their bank with your own photo identification to ensure it’s a seamless transaction and in case the bank teller has any questions.
If you decide you will be going to the bank together, you may want to hold off signing over the check until you get there. That way, you can endorse the check right in front of the teller after showing your ID.
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Can You Deposit Someone Else’s Check in Your Account?
Depending on your bank, you may or may not be able to deposit or cash a check that has been signed over to you.
As mentioned above, some banks might not want to accept an endorsed-to-you check because there’s a chance it could be a fraudulent check. Many check-cashing places won’t accept this form of a check either.
That’s why it’s a good idea to check with your bank before accepting a third-party check as a form of payment.
In addition, you may want to keep the following considerations in mind before accepting a signed-over check as opposed to one written directly to you.
• They can be less convenient. Unlike a regular check, you typically can’t deposit a third-party check at an ATM or upload it via your bank’s mobile deposit app. Getting the check cashed or deposited generally requires a trip to the bank.
• It could be a scam. There are lots of fake check scams out there (see below for more details).
• It could potentially bounce. Even if you know and trust the person who is signing the check over to you, there may still be a bit of risk involved. That’s because you can’t be certain the original person who wrote the check has the funds to cover it. If they don’t, it will be a case of the check bouncing, and you won’t get the money.
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Alternatives to Signing a Check Over to Someone
Perhaps you discover that your bank won’t take a third-party check. Or what if the person you wanted to sign a check over to says “no thanks”? Now what? Try these options.
Use a Money Transfer App
If you wanted to sign a check over to someone because you are trying to pay them, you could instead deposit the check and use a money transfer app, such as PayPal, Venmo, or Cash App.
Open a Bank Account
If the reason you want to sign over a check is that you don’t have a place to deposit it, you could open a free checking account. Or, if you have had issues with your banking in the past (such as too many overdrafts or an account being closed by your bank), you might look into what is known as a second chance checking account. These can have some restrictions but allow you access and may eventually be transitioned to a standard checking account.
Try a Check-Cashing Business
If you have a received check but don’t have an account to deposit it into and need to get funds to someone, you could try a check-cashing business. While this can be a convenient option, the fees can be quite high.
Recommended: What Is an Electronic Check (E-Check)?
Do All Banks Accept Third-Party Checks?
Not all banks accept checks signed over to someone else. That is why it can be a smart move to check first before you try to go this route. You or the person to whom you signed over a check could wind up discovering that the check is not accepted for deposit once you arrive at the bank. Or it could be rejected if mobile or ATM deposit is used.
Also, if the bank does accept these checks and you are going the in-person route to deposit it, you may want to ask what sort of identification may be required. You may need some additional ID in order for the check to be cashed or deposited.
Watch Out for Check Cashing Scams
Third-party checks may be used as a ploy in fraudulent transactions, so be wary. You could become a victim of one if someone you don’t know offers to sign over a check to you (often for a large amount) as payment or in exchange for cash. For instance, if you were selling a used mobile phone for $400 and a person offers to sign over a check for $500 to you and tells you to keep the excess, that’s a major red flag.
That’s why it can be wise to only accept an endorsed check from a person you know and trust or verify the check before depositing.
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How can you cash a check that is not in your name?
If you want to cash a check that is not in your name, you could have the person to whom the check is made out endorse the check to you. Then, make sure that your bank will accept it. Another option is to request a new check from the payor if it was mistakenly made out to the wrong name. Or contact your bank for guidance.
Can you mobile deposit a check signed over to you?
It is likely that you can mobile deposit a check that has been signed over to you, but it can be wise to double-check your financial institution’s policies to be sure.
Can someone deposit a check for you without your signature?
Generally, banks require a signature on the back to deposit a check. If someone is depositing a check for you, it will likely need to say “For deposit only” and have your signature to be accepted.
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