Have you ever had this experience with your checking account? You wrote out a check and put it in the mail, but the person on the other end never received it. The check could be lost, or it may have been stolen. Should you write another check? The answer to this problem is to stop payment on the check.
TL;DR (Too Long; Didn't Read)
When you put a stop payment on a check, it will no longer be cashed when turned in to the bank. Stop payment orders do carry fees, so check with your bank first before asking for one.
How a Stop Payment Works
Unlike credit card transactions that can process immediately after taking place, there is a delay between when you write a check and when it clears and the funds are deducted from your account. During the time before a check clears, you can notify your bank and stop it from being processed. This stops payment from your checking account and cancels the check. Once a check has been cashed, a stop payment request is no longer possible.
Many banks will also allow you to put a stop payment on an electronic funds transfer, such as a recurring monthly payment that you’ve set up with your bank. In this case, you should notify the bank at least three days before the funds are due to be withdrawn. Check with your bank about requirements for this type of stop payment.
How to Stop Payment
Contact your bank as soon as you decide to stop payment on your check. Some banks may allow you to complete the request from your online or mobile account, while others require a phone call. Once you provide your name, account number and information about the check you want to cancel, you’ll be told whether the check has already cleared. If it hasn’t cleared, you’ll be able to request to stop payment. You will have to follow up your oral request with a written request. Be sure to find out how long the stop payment will last. In most cases, the check can be cashed after six months.
Stop Payment Fees
Depending on your bank, you may be required to pay a stop payment fee. Typical fees range between $15 and $30. Some banks will waive the fee if you have a high-balance checking or savings account.
Fraudulent Stop Payments
It is illegal to stop payment on a legitimate check. If someone stops payment on a check you’re given, you can sue the check writer for the amount of the check plus damages. Keep these legal penalties in mind before you decide to stop payment on a check.
Catie Watson spent three decades in the corporate world before becoming a freelance writer. She has an English degree from UC Berkeley and specializes in topics related to personal finance, careers and business.