What happens when you move to a new home but you still have a box of personal checks left over with your old address? Don’t worry. Those checks can still be used as a legal form of payment. Your address and personal information are not the most critical elements of a personal check. However, some merchants will still ask if all your information is current.
Elements of a Check
A lot of different information can be found on a personal check. Some of it you will fill in yourself. That includes the amount you’re writing the check for, the date, your signature and any notes you want to make on the memo line.
Items already printed on your checks include the MICR line, the name and location of your financial institution and personal information found in the top left corner of the check.
The MICR Line
The MICR line is the most important part of your checks. MICR stands for magnetic ink character recognition. It is the series of numbers and symbols along the bottom of your checks.
The data represents your bank's routing number, your account number and the check number that's also found in the top right corner. This information is used to process the check. It tells the bank collecting the payment where it can withdraw the funds.
Clearing a Check
When a bank clears one of your checks, your address and other personal information is somewhat insignificant. What's most important is that you filled in all the fields correctly, it is signed with your signature, and you have enough money in your checking account to cover the payment.
Your signature will be compared to a signature card kept on file at your financial institution.
Be aware that it may take several days for a check to process and the funds to leave your account.
The personal information on checks can vary. What's printed on that section is often your decision. Many websites that let you order checks only require one line of personal information.
Using checks with an old address will not affect how payment is made. It's perfectly legal to continue using them.
Some merchants may ask you if the information on your checks is current. This is because they want to be able to contact you if your check doesn't clear. In this case, you can simply cross out the outdated information and write your current address.
Writing a new address on your checks is no reason for concern. However, there is some personal information that should almost never appear on personal checks.
Your Social Security number is highly sensitive and can be used to commit identity theft. Someone could use it to gain access to your bank account and other financial sources. Never have your Social Security number printed on checks. If a merchant asks you to write it on a personal check, make sure you know the reason why and can be assured it will be properly handled.