Should I spend the money to cancel a lost check?
October 14, 2005 4:16 PM   Subscribe

Our rent checks seem to have gotten lost in the mail recently, and we can't figure out if it's worth spending the $25 to stop the payments or not. What do you think and why? Thanks!
posted by friedapplepie to Work & Money (10 answers total)
Let it go through. Worst case scenario, they get and cash both checks, and as long as you're not living paycheck-to-paycheck, you are a month up on the rent!
posted by luriete at 4:22 PM on October 14, 2005

Except that even if you're not living paycheck to paycheck you'll still have to keep the money in the account "in case." Maybe it's just me, but I don't keep much extra money in my checking account.

I say if it's easy to get the landlord to destroy the duplicate check do that, otherwise pay the $25 and be done with it.
posted by sevenless at 4:56 PM on October 14, 2005

I actually just went through this... if there's any doubt that the check may have been stolen then put the stop payment on it. my bank wasn't even going to charge me the fee for it (it had been cashed though - my rental company had put the check in and didn't record it properly so I'm paid up until december now). I would do it anyway and explain the situation - they may waive the fee for you - but if someone happens upon the check and it's not your rental company there's a chance they could successfully cash it and then you're out rent.
posted by mrg at 4:57 PM on October 14, 2005

Ask for advice/help/tracer at the post office that handled your payments. A couple of years ago, 3 of my checks disappeared from the face of the earth. I did not know it until the next month's credit card bill came in with a non-payment fee.

None of the 3 checks was ever cashed, but now I use a PO Box and also send mail at the post office. The risk of identity theft makes PO Box rent a wise investment and the extra trouble of a trip to the PO worthwhile.
posted by Cranberry at 5:00 PM on October 14, 2005

Actually, the more I think about it stop paymenting may be best anyway in case someone tries to alter the payee and cash it.

Probably not very likely, but getting the money back from your bank will be possible but will be a big pain.

On preview, yada yada yada
posted by sevenless at 5:01 PM on October 14, 2005

If anyone other than the landlord cashes it you can probably eventually get your money back from the bank. If the landlord cashes it, you are one month in advance. I would weigh this against the very high fee for stopping the check, a service that protects the bank more than you, I believe.
posted by caddis at 5:37 PM on October 14, 2005

Whether you decide to stop payment or not, keep on eye on your checking account. Recently, someone had counterfeit checks printed with my account number. Fortunately, I checked my account balance online and discovered this when only two bogus had been cashed. The guy had written about 10 checks in one weekend against my account. It was big PITA to clear up, but it would have been worse if all ten checks had cashed before I saw what was happening.
The point is, I think he got my account number from a stolen check. No one ever cashed the stolen check, just kept the account info for a few months then started stealing from me.
posted by clh at 5:37 PM on October 14, 2005

If you think someone other than the payee may be in possession of the check the bank has a bigger interest in stopping payment (whether the realize it or not) than you do. If they are thinking clearly they should be willing to stop payment for no charge. If the bank gives the cash to someone other than the actual payee on the check in most instances it is ultimately their loss rather than the payor's.
posted by Carbolic at 5:43 PM on October 14, 2005

Factoring in the PITA to you I should have said that the bank has a real interest in stopping payment rather than that they have a bigger interest than you do. My actual point is that if you point out the situation to them they should be willing to stop payment at no cost to you.
posted by Carbolic at 6:13 PM on October 14, 2005

Good practice for things like rent checks: Write "For Deposit Only" on the back. Makes a bit harder for the wrong person to cash.

Checks suck. Modern banking practices no longer use them. It is, after all, the 21st century. Why is America so behind the times?
posted by Goofyy at 11:11 PM on October 16, 2005

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