How to Tell If a Check Is a Payroll Check

by Nat Fondell; Updated September 26, 2017

Cash or deposit your payroll check with confidence by understanding some of the differences between a payroll check and a personal check. Payroll checks have distinguishing features, such as the information printed on the check stub as well as the information that appears on the face of the check. Any questions you have about your payroll check usually can be resolved by a banking representative.

Step 1

Observe the overall appearance of the check as well as the payer's name. Many payroll checks are drawn on a company account, instead of an individual's personal checking account.

Step 2

Look for a company logo in the left or right hand corner, with the company address and possibly the check number. While banks sometimes place their logos on personal checks as well, they often do not place their addresses on checks, and rarely in the upper left-hand corner, as this is reserved for the address of the check's signer.

Step 3

Feel the edges of the check for perforation. Payroll checks often have one perforated edge from which to separate the check stub from the part of the check that will be deposited into your bank account or cashed.

Step 4

Find the watermark on the check to help determine if it is an authentic payroll check. Payroll checks issued by large corporations will have a watermark on the rear of the check that includes a security device that can help determine the authenticity of a payroll check. These security watermarks often are not found on personal checks.

Step 5

Examine the check stub. The check stub for a payroll check should itemize the amount deducted from the check for federal, state and local income taxes. In addition, deductions for an employee's contribution to health care insurance, retirement savings or other authorized deductions will appear on the check stub.


  • Any questions about the authenticity of the check should be brought directly to the manager, along with the drivers license of the person cashing the check. This should be done in a matter that makes the situation seem routine and perfectly normal so the customer doesn't feel like he's being accused of trying to pass a bad check.


  • Never write on the surface of a check, and don't allow anyone else except a banking representative to write on the face of a payroll check. Altering the check may make the check look suspicious or even invalid.

    Payroll checks are a special target of forgers, due to their high amounts and relatively high issuance numbers, and so these checks should be held to a high level of scrutiny.

About the Author

Nat Fondell has been writing professionally since 2006. A former editor of the "North Park University Press," his work has appeared at scientific conferences and online, covering health, business and home repair. Fondell holds dual Bachelors of Arts degrees in journalism and history from North Park University and received pre-medical certification at Dominican University.

Photo Credits

  • Dana Dowling/Demand Media