How to cancel a lost or stolen check

How to cancel a lost or stolen check
In this article
  • A check gives you the facility to encash your money by presenting it to the bank, but when it’s lost or stolen, it can cause a loss for you. 
  • To stop a payment you need to provide the notice orally and in written form to stop a check. 
  • Most banks do not charge any fee for canceling a payment, but there are always exceptions. 

A check is a good financial instrument to cash out your money, however, the tables can turn if you lose your check or it gets stolen. When a check falls in the hands of an unintended person, they can cash it because the check would have been verified by you. However, all hope is not lost yet, you can still ask your bank or credit union to cancel the check so it cannot be cashed.

Here are the steps that you need to follow in case you want to cancel your check.

Step 1: Check the status of the check

You have the authority to stop the payment if the bank hasn’t cleared it yet. To check the status, you can use your transaction history or check your smartphone to check if the amount has been deducted. If the deed has been done, then be quick and report it as a fraud to the bank.

Step 2: Accumulate relevant information

To impose a stop order or report to the bank, here are the details you will need.

  • The check number
  • The account number
  • The amount on the check 

You might also need the details that include the entity who sanctioned the check if you have a combined account, the date on the check, and the name of the recipient.

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Step 3: Get in contact with your bank

To stop a payment you need to provide the notice orally and in written form to stop a check. You can contact the bank in various ways, including communicating with them online or calling through the number provided by them. If the check has not been cleared yet then the request to stop the payment will come into effect as soon as it is authorized.

Step 4: Adhere to the stop payment fee provision 

Most banks do not charge any fee for canceling a payment, but there are always exceptions. Some banks charge a fee that is up to $35 to cancel a payment. The amount often depends on the mode of communication. 

If you cancel the payment online, it may be charged less while canceling it on the call may require you to pay more. You would then have to clear the payment of the fees before the bank goes through with your stop request.

Step 5: Remember the expiration of the request

The validity of stopping a payment by a bank lasts around 6 months, or some banks might also have a period of around a year. If the period has expired you can check it with the bank and renew it. However, banks usually don’t cash checks that are older than six months.

Also know about: How to Write a Check


Is canceling recurring payments possible?

A bundle of checks or pre-processed Automated Clearing House debit transactions can be stopped. If you want to cancel it, federal law makes it mandatory to give an oral or written request before 3 business days of the sanction of payment. In case of calling, you might need to submit the written request in 14 days. If it is a one-time automated clearing house electric transfer, then you cannot cancel it.

Is stopping a payment on a certified check allowed?

The banks are not authorized to stop these checks until a scam is involved. Banks are usually supposed to proceed with checks as they are legally liable to cash them. 

What to do if a fraudulent check has been cashed?

If you report the matter to the bank about a stolen check promptly, then you can put in a request to remove the charges.

What should the recipient do?

In case the check is stolen or lost, you can coordinate with the payee about the scam stop the check, and decide to write a new check for the payment.

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Picture of Devanshee Dave

Devanshee Dave

With over 4 years of experience in financial writing and a master’s degree in mass communication & journalism, Devanshee is currently preparing for her CFA (Chartered Financial Analyst) exams. In her spare time, she likes to dance and learn about cosmology, astronomy and anything that can expand her knowledge from the big bang to the big crunch.


This page is purely informational. Beem does not provide financial, legal or accounting advice. This article has been prepared for informational purposes only. It is not intended to provide financial, legal or accounting advice and should not be relied on for the same. Please consult your own financial, legal and accounting advisors before engaging in any transactions.

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