How to Put a Stop Payment on a Check That Is Lost or Stolen

When you have a stolen or lost check, you will need to act quickly to protect yourself and your account. Your bank will give you the option of putting a stop payment on a particular check. This does not guarantee that the check will not be cashed or negotiated, but it can help you stop the check from going through. It is important to act quickly. Unfortunately, you do not have the same recourse if you want to stop a debt card charge from going through, unless your card is stolen and you report it immediately.

Contact Your Bank

person writing a check
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The first step is to contact your bank and request that they put a stop payment on the check. You will need to know the check number, the exact amount of the check and the person you made the check out to. This information needs to be complete in order to issue a stop payment on a check. Once you make the initial phone call, the bank will have you come in within a specified amount of time to fill out and sign official paperwork. If you do not come in the stop payment will drop off. The stop payment will last for six months, but you may want to extend it to a year if you are still unsure about where the check is.

Understanding the Fees with Stop Payments

 The fees for stopping a check are quite high, nearly the same amount as if you were to bounce a check. The bank assumes responsibility for the check if you report the information quickly enough. That is one reason for the increased fees. If the check is less than the fees, it is not worth putting a stop payment on. You should be prepared to pay the fee, and you may need to pay it again if you have not found the missing check when the hold expires. The fee is per item, so if you had several checks stolen, the fees will add up quickly. Remember to balance the amount the check was written for against the need to put a stop payment on it. If blank checks were stolen, you may want to close your account instead.

Consider Closing Your Account

A stop payment is a good solution when you know of one check that was lost or stolen in the mail. It is not the correct solution if your checkbook was stolen or if your debit card was stolen. You need to be aware that your information might be compromised and monitor your account. Additionally, if several checks were stolen, it may be better to close out the account and open a new one. The bank can help you transfer over automatic drafts and payments when you close out the account with them. It is also important to monitor your account for a few months after the check is stolen to make sure that you do not have other fraudulent activity. Even if you open a new account, you will need to closely monitor your account for the next few months.

Watch Out for Identity Theft

After a check is stolen, you run the same risk of identity theft that you would face after your checkbook or credit cards are stolen. You will need to monitor your credit reports over the next several months. You can set up a flag on the credit reports that states that the bank must call you before they lend you money or to put a freeze on your credit report. If you are thinking about buying a home or car soon, this may not be very convenient, but it can save your credit report and prevent you from needing to clean up a big mess in the future. If you do become a victim of identity theft, you will need to fill out a police report and take the legal steps to protect yourself so you can dispute the charges with the bank.

Prevent Your Checks from Being Lost or Stolen

Many transaction can be completed online which eliminates the need to use checks. If you do not write checks very often, keep your checkbook at home in a safe place. If you are mailing a check, you may want to send it certified mail depending on the amount of the check. In addition, you should work to keep your debit card information safe. One way that theives access your information is through the use of skimmers that they put in ATMs and other devices. If something looks different or off with the ATM, you may want to use a different ATM. It is important to monitor your account each day so you can identify if your account has been compromised and report it immediately. This can help you save time and money in fees.