Checks are being used less by ordinary people, but the check business is alive and thriving in businesses.
If you don’t use checks a lot, and our younger generations don’t often seem to, you may not know what it means to stop payment on a check. Well, the phrase pretty much tells you what that means, but I’ll clarify a bit further. First of all you need to know your check has never been cashed. Businesses still reconcile their accounts each month as a regular part of doing business. From one month to the next you may find that you have some checks that are still not showing up in the bank account. But those almost always have cleared by the following month. If you aren’t reconciling your checking account each month, you may never realize that a check hasn’t cleared. If the check is very large, say $500 you might notice that you have a lot more money in your account than you should, but if it’s a smaller amount, like $35, you might forget you ever wrote that check.
But back to what I was saying. Every once in awhile, a check will keep showing up as you reconcile each month as not having cleared through the checking account. By that time you can assume the check was never received by the person or business to whom it was sent. However, it would be foolish to make that assumption without first doing some investigating. First, make contact with the person or company to whom the check was written and find out if they have simply not made it to the bank yet. Most everyone has a smart phone and the option to deposit their check just by snapping a photo of the front and back sides, but not everyone. Once you’ve established that the person does not have the check you can assume it is lost.
You’ll want to re-issue a check to the person or company in question. But that’s not where your responsibility ends. Who knows what happened to that check? Perhaps someone stole it and plans to try and forge the signature and cash it. You wouldn’t want to take that chance, especially if the check is written for a significant amount.
The next step is to contact your financial institution, either by phone, in person or online. There are usually options when you log into your account to stop payment on a check.
It usually costs to stop payment on a check, typically around
$10 $30-$40. However, once the stop payment is applied to that check, you know it will never be cashed by anyone.
Now if the person called you and said they washed the check and it’s a pile of tiny spitballs, and you trust this person, you wouldn’t have to go the route of stopping payment on a check.
Just use your own judgement.
Now on the other end of the spectrum, one time my husband didn’t get the check to the bank for a few days. If I remember correctly, it was about three days. It was a couple of years ago, and we didn’t have banking by phone options with the credit union yet. It was typical for us to deposit checks once a week. That’s how it is done at the place where I work as well.
This check was from one of Mr. A’s customers. He decided since Mr. A hadn’t cashed the check immediately, that it must be lost and he just went ahead and put a stop payment on the check. So we went and put the check into the bank, assuming the check was good. A few days later we received a notice in the mail that the check had had a stop payment placed on it. Mr. A had to call the customer and find out what was going on.
So be sure to call the other person or company and make sure that they don’t have the check. It’s likely that they would not hold onto a check for several weeks, but you never know.
Have you ever stopped payment on a check?