Short Answer — You can cash a check for someone else (or someone else can cash a check for you) if you turn the check into a third-party check. It’s a very simple process. Otherwise, you cannot cash a check unless it is in your own name.
Can You Cash Someone Else’s Check?
You can only cash someone else’s check if that person signs it over to you. Likewise, someone else can only cash your check if you sign it over to them. We contacted branches of various banks in New York, Florida, Texas, and California to confirm this information.
A check that is signed over to someone other than the original payee is commonly known as a third-party check. For more information on how third-party checks work, see our article and video on how to sign over a check to someone else.
Without creating a third-party check, you cannot cash a check that isn’t in your own name. Banks and other check cashing locations require ID and proper endorsements to confirm that the original payee permits someone else to cash the check. (See our related research for more information about what you need to cash a check.)
Note that while third-party checks are possible, banks aren’t legally required to honor them for policy reasons. Some banks may also refuse a third-party check if the value is high, for fraud protection purposes.
What Happens If You Cash Someone Else’s Check?
If you attempt to cash someone else’s check without proper signatures or permission, the bank or check cashing location will most likely refuse to cash the check.
Cashing a check that is not made out or signed over to you constitutes check fraud, which can also lead to legal consequences if you manage to cash the check successfully.
The original payee may file a police report, file a complaint with the U.S. Postal Service (if the check was mailed), or contact the check’s issuer to investigate the theft.