A check can smudge or mutilate during the printing and mailing process. Additionally,
a payee can smudge or mutilate a check prior to negotiation. The merchant or financial
institution (FI) can refuse to cash the smudged or mutilated check even if it is legible.
If the critical elements of a check are legible, the Field Office (FO) should advise
the merchant or FI that the check is valid for negotiation. If a merchant or FI will
not accept the check or the payee reports that a check is mutilated, use the following
procedure to have the U.S. Department of the Treasury (Treasury) cancel and reissue
the check. NOTE: For a mutilated check that is beyond recognition, use regular non-receipt procedures.