That thing about blacking out the information on the check could actually work! If your signature is sufficiently illegible, they won't be able to tell your name from the check, but the check will still be valid, and the magnetic ink machine will be able to read the information just fine. You leave the payee and amount readable, sign the check, and deposit it in your bank. Bank will throw it into the clearing system, and IF IT CLEARS, everything will be fine. If you gave me the check, I would not take it because of the difficulty involved if it didn't clear, but you might be able to pay a bill with a check like that!