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Why does direct deposit need a voided check?

Published June 27, 2018

When you start a new job or re-enroll in direct deposit, the most frustrating part can be providing a voided check. In a digital society, why does direct deposit require a voided check?

In the past, this was because companies processing direct deposit enrollments, which were often filled out on paper, didn't want to be accountable for entering numbers that were already available in a machine-readable format. They could save time and money by running the check through the same machine used by banks to read the routing and account numbers from the paper, reducing the possibility of errors and saving time in the enrollment process.

Now that most direct deposits can be enrolled through HR management software (whether by the employee or a designated payroll manager), the use of voided checks is a measure to double-check the employee's reported routing and account numbers. There's no technical or regulatory reason for requiring a voided check; in fact, many online-only banks that don't provide checks by default will allow you to print a PDF of a "voided check", or check printing services can create a one-off check without the need to order expensive checks just for the purpose of voiding a single check to enroll in direct deposit.