When you lose a personal cheque or it is stolen, you are not out of luck. You can ask your bank or credit union to cancel the cheque, also known as a stop payment order, but timing can be crucial, so follow these four steps as soon as possible, according to
- See whether the cheque went through:
A stop payment request will cost you a steep fee, so make sure you still have the chance to cancel the cheque. In general, you can stop a cheque only if your bank has not paid it.
Look through your account’s transaction history online or on your mobile device to see if it has posted. Or call the recipient and ask if she has cashed it.
- Gather information:
Find your account number, cheque number and the exact amount of the cheque, because you will need that information when you contact your bank. Other details you may need include the date on the cheque and the name of the recipient (the “payee”) and the person who signed the cheque, especially if you have a joint account and someone else wrote it.
- Contact your bank: You must give your bank notice orally or in writing to request a stop payment. Banks recommend various ways to contact them, but you can generally make a request online, at a branch or by calling the phone number on the back of your debit card. Some banks charge more for requesting a stop payment over the phone, while others recommend you call or visit a branch.
- Note the stop payment order’s expiration date:
A stop payment order typically lasts about six months, but at some banks it can last a year or longer. Whenever the order ends, you have the option to renew it for another period. Most banks won’t cash a cheque that is six months old.
Other things to note:
You can request stop payments for a series of cheques and pre-authorised ACH debit transactions, such as recurring bill payments. Government law requires you to make a request orally or in writing to your bank at least three business days before the transfer date. If you call, your bank may require written confirmation of the request within 14 days.
You can’t stop cashier’s cheques, although the bank may in the case of fraud. Because these forms of payment rely on bank funds, a bank must honour them.
A stop payment order is not your only line of defence if a cheque is stolen. If a fraudulent cheque goes through, you may be able to get charges removed by reporting the incident to your bank in a timely manner.
Contact the payee if necessary:
In the event of an error or lost cheque, let the recipient know about the request to stop payment and arrange a way to send a new cheque.
When it comes to cheques, time can be of the essence. Knowing how to cancel them can save you from losing money and the uncertainty over the fate of a lost cheque.
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