Altered check

An altered check is a negotiable instrument on which key items have been changed in order to defraud someone. The information that may be altered on a check includes the following:

  • Check date

  • Dollar amount to be paid

  • Name of the payee

For example, the name of the payee could be altered from Smith to Smithson, thereby allowing Smithson to be paid. Or, the dollar amount to be paid could be changed from $100 to $1000.

When a bank receives a check that it suspects has been altered, it is entitled to refuse to honor the check. The liability for an altered check can reside with any party involved in its processing, depending on where negligence resides. Thus, the party drawing the check, the bank on which the check is drawn, or the bank that presents the check could all be considered liable, depending on the circumstances. To guard against alteration, the issuer of a check should ensure that there are no significant blank spaces left in its number and amount lines.

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