How to Tell If a Check Is a Payroll Check

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Employees receive a payroll check for their completed work during pay periods ranging from weekly to biweekly and bimonthly. If you receive a paper paycheck, keep in mind that you can't just cash it anywhere. It's important to be aware of where you can deposit or cash your paycheck. And remember to always sign your check before presenting it.

What is a Payroll Check?

A payroll check is a check made out to an employee for working a set amount of hours. A check stub for paper format checks will generally include the number of hours worked, hourly pay rate, amount of sick time left, vacation time left and how much has accumulated in a retirement fund. A check stub will vary in different workplaces, reflecting the amounts withdrawn from your gross pay and accumulated totals for relevant categories such as pensions, etc.

Do the Check Cashing Places Cash Personal Checks?

Often, a payroll check is a direct-deposit into the employee's bank account. However, if an employee has the option and prefers a paper check, they can cash the check at their bank and even a local grocery store that offers check-cashing services. Most stores will usually have a maximum amount. To learn which grocery stores offer payroll-check-cashing services, call ahead of time and see if your check is within their cashing limit.

Grocery stores may cash your payroll check, but they usually avoid cashing third-party personal checks. The reason they don't is that the store would be taking a chance of losing money if the check was fraudulent or came back NSF (insufficient funds). When you have a personal check to cash, it's best to take it to your bank.

Do Banks Have to Check Signatures on Checks?

Banks must check signatures on checks, so make sure you sign your check. If someone wrote you a check but forgot to sign it, you need to return it and have them add their signature. Checks must always be signed before a bank will cash it. If you are either cashing a check or depositing it into your bank account, you also need to sign the back of the check. Whether you physically go to the bank to do this or you submit your check via your smartphone electronically, the back of the check requires your signature.

What Is the Punishment for Forging a Check?

If a bank suspects that a check is forged, they won't cash it or allow you to deposit it. They can be held liable if they accepted a forged check and would have to repay the customer. The punishment for forging a check varies from state-to-state. Check fraud is a felony punishable by federal law. Fraud includes writing a check you know will bounce, signing someone else's name on a check, altering a check that you didn't make out and forging a signed signature. The bank will press charges on the fraudulent party. In the United States, check fraud comes with some hefty penalties and fines up to $1 million. In some cases, fraud is punishable by prison sentences up to 30 years.


About the Author

Heather Burdo has been personally involved in business for six years. Her passion is to help small business owners and entrepreneurs through engaging and insightful content.

Photo Credits

  • signing check image by jovica antoski from