How to deal with a lost check and an unhelpful bank
December 10, 2012 6:32 PM   Subscribe

Help me understand what to do about a check that's lost in the mail

I put a check in the mail to my landlord over a week ago and it never arrived. Figuring it was lost, I called my bank to have them stop payment. The bank said it would cost $30 to put a 6-month stop payment on the check, which I reluctantly agreed to (they had even more costly options for 12 and 24 month stops). So, hypothetically, if someone has my check they could hold onto it for 6 months and then fraudulently cash it? What recourse do I have if this happens? Why can't the bank just cancel my check once and for all?
posted by silvergoat to Work & Money (10 answers total)
 
I believe that the check will stay active for 6 months and then be canceled completely. Call the bank back and ask them to explain the process in detail and then ask them to cancel the check once and for all.
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 6:50 PM on December 10, 2012


The New York Times' "The Haggler" column covered almost this exact scenario a couple of years ago.
posted by sriracha at 6:53 PM on December 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


Well, shit, what my bank told me was totally a lie. Nevermind.
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 6:56 PM on December 10, 2012


If someone other than the payee successfully cashes the cheque I don't believe that should be your liability. To cash a cheque the payee would need to produce ID and sign for it, or deposit it into the account with the same name as the cheque payee.

The cancelling is to enable you to re-issue to your landlord.
posted by chapps at 7:00 PM on December 10, 2012


Is your bank Bank of America? From reading Sriracha's link to The Haggler, it sounds like you might want to find a new bank.
posted by alms at 7:07 PM on December 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


Because of this exact reason I now have my checks printed with "Void after 60 days of issue" above the signature line.
posted by JujuB at 10:49 PM on December 10, 2012


Because of this exact reason I now have my checks printed with "Void after 60 days of issue" above the signature line.

You may want to check to see if your bank will actually honor this. I imagine they will not, unless you also have a stop payment order in effect. For example, one checking agreement I have lying around says:
“Conditional” checks include, but are not limited to, checks containing the statement that the check is not good for or after a specified number of days after the date of the check, or that a check may not exceed a certain dollar amount. You agree that we are not required to identify such limitations and that the Bank will have no liability for paying a check even if there is printing on the check indicating conditions must be met for negotiation of the item.
posted by grouse at 4:48 AM on December 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


My understanding has always been that a stop payment is permanent. It's nearly useless otherwise. Sorry I don't have a better suggestion for what to do now, but in the future could you pay by Interac email transfer? It works with any bank the allows online banking (presumably all) and is only like $1.00 to use.
posted by Pomo at 6:02 AM on December 11, 2012


Sorry I don't have a better suggestion for what to do now, but in the future could you pay by Interac email transfer? It works with any bank the allows online banking (presumably all) and is only like $1.00 to use.

Given the spelling of "check" above, the poster does not appear to be in Canada, so this not a possibility.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 7:54 AM on December 11, 2012


noting one more dead town's last parade's comment, I should note that I am in Canada... and after reading this :

Because of this exact reason I now have my checks printed with "Void after 60 days of issue" above the signature line.

I realise our context is completely different so you should probably disregard my comment . . . Canadian cheques stale date in 6 months, unless it is a certified cheque. (sorry!)
posted by chapps at 11:03 PM on December 11, 2012


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