Let’s say that you needed to write a check quickly, but all you’ve got available to you is a pencil.
Pencils are not commonly used to write checks, so this can lead people to wonder whether or not writing a check with a pencil is even allowed.
So, will banks accept checks written in pencil?
In this article, I’ll cover everything that you need to know!
Can You Write A Check In Pencil?
Technically, there is no rule or law that prevents checks from being written in pencil.
However, most banks have a policy not to accept them, due to the potential risks involved with these checks.
If you think about it, this makes sense. The banks themselves are the ones that are responsible for choosing whether or not a transaction goes through. Because checks written in pencil can easily be tampered with, the policy of most banks is to deny and invalidate any checks that have been written in pencil.
Therefore, there is never a good situation where you should try it. Instead, use a permanent pen that can not be erased or modified.
For more information on what can happen if you use a pencil for checks – as well as the answers to other common questions (like whether or not ATMs will accept them, blue vs black ink and more), keep reading!
Checks Written In Pencil Are Easily Forged Or Tampered With!
As mentioned earlier, writing a check with a pencil is extremely risky.
The biggest issue comes down to the nature of a pencil. With a good eraser, it is possible to erase key information on the check and rewrite it as you please, leaving other areas like the check’s signature intact.
This means it would be trivial for someone to modify the amount of the check, or even the recipient of the funds.
When you think about this, it makes sense. However, it’s also pretty easy to try out yourself.
Take one of your blank checks, and fill it out with a pencil. Then, use an eraser to try and erase key information on your own.
Once you see it for yourself, it is clear why a pencil should never be used.
Again, even if your bank will accept checks written in pencil – which is extremely rare, it still isn’t a good idea due to this risk.
Will ATMs Accept Checks Written In Pencil?
Let’s say that your bank’s official policy is to refuse checks written in pencil.
What will happen if you deposit the check via the bank’s ATM instead? Will you be able to use the ATM to cash the check?
This is unlikely.
Depending on your bank, one of two things will happen:
1. The check will still end up needing to be processed by a human teller anyway, which will lead to the exact same result as it being handed over at the counter – the check will not be accepted.
2. The advanced equipment in the ATM will scan the check, and refuse to accept it automatically.
Many modern ATMs use something called Optical Character Recognition – or OCR, to ‘look at’ and ‘read’ the contents written on the check.
The thing is, OCR needs clear, legible, and dark text to work optimally.
Checks written in pencil tend to be lighter than text written with ink, and the graphite of the pencil can cause reflections that can hurt the ATMs ability to read the check.
In fact, even non-traditional ink colors, like red, pink, green, and so on can cause issues with ATMs reading checks correctly.
Remember, if the ATM can’t read the check correctly, it will have be sorted out manually later on – which can cause delays at best, or in the case of using a pencil, the check to likely be refused.
For more information how ATMs work, watch this brief video – it’s actually quite interesting!
Does Blue Vs. Black Ink Matter?
We’ve now determined that checks should be written with a permanent pen, that cannot be erased or tampered with.
We’ve also discussed why you should stick with traditional colors, and avoid light-colored ink when writing your checks.
So, does it matter whether or you use blue or black ink?
Not really. The bank’s automated systems and scanners are perfectly capable of handling blue or black ink just fine – as long as you’re using traditional blue ink, and not light-colored or sky blue ink.
You may wish to ask your bank what color ink they prefer.
In many cases, blue ink is actually preferable to black, because it is harder to replicate with printers, meaning it’s easier to prove authenticity with blue ink.
After all, when black ink is used, it is harder to tell whether or not it came a printer, or you’re using a scanned copy of something.
This is why banks often have you sign important documents in blue ink – it proves undeniably that the signature is current, and valid!
It is never a good idea to write a check in pencil.
Not only do most banks have a policy to refuse any checks written in pencil, but it is also dangerous. Because pencil can be easily erased, it would be simple for someone to write in whatever amount of money they want after the check is no longer in your possession.
Therefore, you should also use a permanent pen to write your checks with.
I hope that this article has made it clear why pencils shouldn’t be used to write checks. If you have any other questions, please ask them using the comment form below.
Thanks for reading, and stay safe!
– James McAllister