If someone owes me money, can they change the terms of payment by writing it on the memo line of the check that they give me?

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Asked on July 2, 2017 under Business Law, Alaska

Answers:

M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

No, they cannot. A person can't unilaterally change the amount owed or terms of payment by making such a notation. The memo line on a check has no legal force; it's just for informational purposes. Think about it, if it was that easy to alter the terms of a payment, it would done all the time. For instance, a person could write "payment in full" for a bill and then just be done with it. Further, the fact is that not every check can be that closely monitored for such notations as it would tie up commerce. Accordingly, the recipient of a check can cash it without being bound by whatever may have been written in on the memo line.


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