Can You Cash a Ripped or Damaged Check? Answered

Close-up of the "Pay to the Order Of" field on a check

Short Answer — Whether you can cash a check with rips or other damage will be the decision of the institution cashing the check. The extent of the damage will generally be the deciding factor; if important information is missing or unreadable, you won’t be able to cash the check.

Can You Cash a Ripped Check?

Whether or not you can cash a ripped check will depend on the extent of damage and if any of the check detail is damaged or illegible.

The individual check cashing location you visit will decide if the check is cashable or not based on its condition. The more damage a check has, the less likely it will be able to be cashed.

If any account or routing numbers, amount, date, or signature is missing, you will not be able to cash the check.

We spoke to customer service representatives at Bank of America, Check ‘n Go, Citizens Bank, Kroger, U.S. Bank, Walmart, and Wells Fargo to confirm this information.

Representatives told us that it might help to take the check to the bank it is drawn on — it may be more likely to cash it.

If the issuing bank doesn’t cash it, you may want to try your personal bank, which may be willing to let you deposit it.

Can You Cash Checks With Other Types of Damage?

Whether the damage is a rip, a coffee or ink stain, water damage, a shoe print, or another type, it is unlikely that any institution will cash a check if any of the check detail is missing or severely damaged.

Banks and check cashing services can refuse to honor a check that is damaged at their discretion, even if it may still be valid. (A valid check clearly shows the routing and account numbers, the written and dollar amount, the date, bank of issue, and signature.)

A severely damaged check will not be able to go through a bank’s check reading machine for verification. Damaged routing and account numbers on a check can’t be processed. If all of the check detail is intact, you may be able to cash the damaged check.

What to Do If You Have a Ripped/Damaged Check

You should not attempt to glue, tape, or otherwise fix a damaged check yourself. When a check is damaged, you should not try to deposit it at an ATM or use your bank’s mobile app deposit.

Instead, visit a teller and explain the situation. As detailed above, the bank or check cashing location may or may not accept your check, but if you try to tape or glue the check yourself, there will be less chance of acceptance.

Note that check cashing locations have different requirements, which you will need to meet if the location is willing to cash your check; see our related research for details on how to cash a check and what you’ll need.

If you’re unable to cash the check or deposit it, you may have to seek a replacement from the issuer. There is no way to get a replacement check without contacting the issuer.

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