How to Cash a Check Under Protest

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If the payment doesn't match the invoice, you can pursue the owed balance.
If the payment doesn't match the invoice, you can pursue the owed balance. (Image: Christine Balderas/Photodisc/Getty Images)

As a business owner, you may receive payment for goods or services that falls short of the original invoice. A notation of "payment in full," or something similar, on the check indicates the customer does not intend to pay the entire balance. If you cash the check, you may forfeit your legal right to collect the remaining balance. You can return the partial payment to the sender or cash the check under protest, which may uphold your legal rights to pursue the balance.

Things You'll Need

  • Check for partial payment
  • Pen

Contact the customer to verify that the "payment in full" language was intentional. If he refuses to issue a new check for the full amount or without the "payment in full" notation, endorse the check.

Write the words "without prejudice" or "under protest" under the endorsement. This will indicate that you're accepting the payment without acknowledging it as a settlement.

Cash or deposit the check through your financial institution.

Document the entire sequence of preceding events in detail. If collection of the remaining balance turns into a legal battle, this information will be important.

Tips & Warnings

  • Laws may vary by state. It's important to consult a lawyer before cashing the check if you are unclear on your individual state's legal ramifications.

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