New address, same old checkbook
January 16, 2010 8:55 AM   Subscribe

Is there any reason to get new checks with my new address?

A few months before I moved last year, I ordered new checks. I generally only use checks to pay rent and for a few other miscellaneous reasons, so these checks are going to last for well over another year.

Is there a compelling reason to shred these checks and get new ones with my current address? Am I running afoul of any laws?
posted by nayrb5 to Work & Money (29 answers total)
If the address on the checks doesn't match the address of your new place, along with its associated records (drivers' license, taxes, pay stubs, etc.) why would you expect someone to accept the check with your old address on it as legitimate payment?

Further I would imagine you would update the bank with your new address. Why would they cash a check written on your old checks with your old address on it?
posted by dfriedman at 8:58 AM on January 16, 2010

I've done this for years. I write fewer than 20 checks a year. I'm still using checks from two addresses back with no problem, since I only ever use them in situations where there is no reason my identity would be questioned. I've never had any problem.
posted by fourcheesemac at 8:58 AM on January 16, 2010 [2 favorites]

dfriedman, I have also cashed several checks with my old addresses on them. My bank teller has never blinked once.
posted by fourcheesemac at 8:59 AM on January 16, 2010

I have been using checks with my old address on them for something like five years now and never had a problem.
posted by phoenixy at 9:01 AM on January 16, 2010

dfriedman: People move a lot, especially renters; I've written checks to my landlord with my old address, accepted without question; I've written checks to various city government departments, all accepted and cashed just fine; I've written checks to small companies. All cashed just fine. My bank knows about my new address and is still perfectly happy to cash the checks with my old one, which is good, because I've got five hundred of the damn things and write, on average, 13 checks a year, 12 of which are rent.

In short, I've never had a problem, inasmuch as anecdotes are useful.
posted by Tomorrowful at 9:01 AM on January 16, 2010

I have been writing checks with the wrong address on them for more than 10 years. Sometimes I cross out the address and write in my new address. No one has queried these checks even once.
posted by grouse at 9:02 AM on January 16, 2010 [1 favorite]

Which is to say, I think the compelling reason is there only if you need to prove your identity to cash the check (as in merchant transactions). In that situation, your address should match your other ID (and you *are* required by law to change your address with DMV for your driver's license, by the way). My banks, at least, have always relied on my swiping my ATM card in recent years to cash checks written on my account. Otherwise, I write checks to doctors, landlords, friends, or to send money by mail, so no one in such circumstances checks my ID.

Obviously, the right answer is to ask your bank, though.
posted by fourcheesemac at 9:02 AM on January 16, 2010

I have always just scratched out the old address, added the new one and initialed the change. (Professionals request that you do this.) It's annoying, and I'm always happy to see the end of the box so that I can be justified in ordering new ones. But I have never had a question from a bank or a merchant about it.
posted by Countess Elena at 9:04 AM on January 16, 2010

I should mention that there's no requirement for checks to have your address in the first place, so unless you are using the wrong address to defraud people, it is unlikely you are running afoul of any laws. If you accidentally bounce a check, however, I wonder if having the wrong address on it will look bad.
posted by grouse at 9:05 AM on January 16, 2010 [1 favorite]

I have used checks with an old address for years and never had a problem. Sometimes I scratch out the address and put my current one, but usually not, and it's never mattered. The address on my driver's license is my parents' and I just keep it on there because I move all the time, but they never do. So, no addresses have ever matched anything, and it's never, ever been an issue.
Stores just look at your ID to compare names and write your DL # on your check, not to compare addresses.
posted by ishotjr at 9:10 AM on January 16, 2010

*I should clarify that. The address on my checks is the place I lived the last time I ordered checks, and the address on my DL is my parents' address. The address on my DL has never matched my checks.
posted by ishotjr at 9:11 AM on January 16, 2010

Obviously, the right answer is to ask your bank, though.

I just did this very thing yesterday with mine. They said:

1. you can always make little address stamps with your printer (assuming you have one) and stick them over the address spot, entirely legit

2. the bank itself has no problem with the "write in your own address" style of check

3. the bank has no problem with you using the old checks as they have your old address in their records

The only thing that's really going to be a problem is a business or individual that's being an extreme stickler, likely because either A. they're idiots or B. you've messed with them in the past.
posted by philip-random at 9:14 AM on January 16, 2010

I've moved a couple times now and was in the same boat with left-over checks. I've always just scratched out the old address and written the new one (which is also the same one that bank has) next to it. So far so good, never had a problem.
posted by Nolechick11 at 9:17 AM on January 16, 2010

I am still using checks with an old address (2 apartments ago, no less) in a different state, and I have never had any problems either with someone accepting them, or with my bank honoring them. But, granted, I very, very, very rarely write checks, with most of my checks being generated by the bank and mailed to the recipient.
posted by bunnycup at 9:18 AM on January 16, 2010

I use twelve checks a year to pay rent; my bank sends checks in blocks of 10 books. I'm still using checks from a decade and five addresses ago. No one cares.
posted by Billegible at 9:23 AM on January 16, 2010

My spouse, until very recently, used checks with not only an old out-of-state address, but checks that were issued by a bank that no longer exists! (they had been bought by BofA, so the routing number transferred)

Some companies object to out-of-state checks, but otherwise as long as the account and routing numbers are still valid, there won't be a problem. If it makes you feel better, cross out the old address and write in your new one.
posted by muddgirl at 9:32 AM on January 16, 2010

Once or twice I have had store clerks ask if the address is current. I don't know what they would have done if it had not been though. Maybe they were just checking so their mailing list would be accurate.

But cetailoy the only reason to turn it down would be if there were a question as to your identity.
posted by SLC Mom at 9:35 AM on January 16, 2010

I only write checks to pay my rent and other bills through the mail, so I go through one box every 2-3 years. I've used checks with an old address without a problem, but now I get my checks printed without any address at all, and those seem to work fine too.

I never pay by check at stores, so I don't know if my address-less checks would cause a problem with clerks.
posted by cosmic.osmo at 10:14 AM on January 16, 2010

use up the old checks...when you need new ones, just put your name on them. I haven't had an address or phone number on a check in years, it is never a problem.
posted by HuronBob at 10:43 AM on January 16, 2010

My checks are printed with an address of a place I lived at five times previous to this one, in 2004.

I write about two checks a year, so those should last me the rest of my life.

Nobody cares. They care about your account number. Everybody uses debit cards to pay for everything else.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 10:47 AM on January 16, 2010

The checkbook I predominantly use has an old address for me (which I black out since it's not a good way to contact me).

The name for the financial institution is old (has an extra word in it), and the address of the financial institution on the checks is a now-demolished building. However, the first few Google hits for the routing number all show its current name and address.

I've had absolutely no problems using them.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 10:53 AM on January 16, 2010

I write a couple of checks a month and still use the checks with my former address from three years ago. I just cross out the old address. Never had a problem.
posted by scody at 11:11 AM on January 16, 2010

I have no idea what dfriedman is talking about--pretty sure that you don't cease to be a person just because you moved, changed your name, or let your license expire.

I have never had a problem using checks from several addresses ago; even including some out of state checks that didn't match my license. Sometimes when I'm feeling sassy I cross out the last address and put the new one in, if I think the receiver will need to contact me or something.

YMMV for small businesses and suchlike.
posted by shownomercy at 12:00 PM on January 16, 2010

Not only is my wife using checks that have her old address on them, she's using checks that have her old name on them. Nobody has said a word. Every check has sucked the money out of our account just like it's supposed to.
posted by theichibun at 12:20 PM on January 16, 2010

Haha, 2nding theichibun - my checks have neither my current address nor my current name on them. I actually asked whether this would be an issue when I was at the bank changing my name with them - "Do I need to order new checks?" - and the bank manager guy looked at me like I had two heads. Of course, I didn't need to order new checks. There is no human involved at any point in the process of moving my money into someone else's account. If the people I am paying are willing to accept my old-ass checks, everyone else involved in the check cashing process is willing to go right along.
posted by crinklebat at 1:47 PM on January 16, 2010

Address hasn't been right on mine since late 90s, never had a problem once.
posted by NotMyselfRightNow at 2:22 PM on January 16, 2010

I just used a check from Bank One in Dallas. Bank One was purchased by Chase Bank about 6 years ago and my account moved from Bank One to Chase. I've moved across the country since those checks were printed.

My address is wrong. The bank name is wrong. The bank address is wrong. What's right is the almighty routing number for the bank clearing house.
posted by 26.2 at 3:32 PM on January 16, 2010

I just stick one of those free address labels sent by charities and your insurance agent over the old address. No-one has ever questioned this.
posted by Susurration at 8:42 PM on January 16, 2010

I just wrote a check where the printed address is in another country, drawn on a bank in this country. Never had any problems with that, either.
posted by grouse at 12:02 AM on February 2, 2010

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