How Do You Stop Payment on a Check?

A stop payment order is a request to cancel a check so that it cannot be cashed. You may need to stop paying checks because:

  • You lost your check or checkbook
  • You suspect the check has been stolen
  • You sent a check to the wrong address
  • You made a mistake on the check (for example the wrong recipient or amount)
  • You dispute a product or service paid for by check
  • You think you’ve been conned

If you want to cancel a check, act fast. The longer you wait, the more likely it is that the recipient will cash the check. And once cashed out, you may be out of luck.

How to Stop Payment by Check

Stopping payments by check is pretty easy. Here’s how to do it.

1. See if the Check Has Cleared

You cannot stop paying on a check that has already cleared. Check your account online or call your bank to see if the check cleared. If not, you are good to move on to the next step.

If so, there’s not much you can do unless the check is stolen or forged. In this case, contact your bank and report it as fraud. If the bank does not want to return your money, you can file a complaint with the Office of Comptroller Currency Customer Assistance Group.

2. Collect Check Details

You must provide information about the check to request a stop payment. Before you call your bank or credit union, make sure you know:

  • Your account number
  • Check number
  • check date
  • Check amount
  • Recipient’s name

3. Contact your bank or credit union

Some banks and credit unions require written notice of a stop payment request, while others are fine with an oral or online request. Those who allow verbal requests may require written confirmation within 14 days. Contact your bank or browse the website for policies.

4. Pay the Stop Payment Fee (if any)

Your bank or credit union may charge a fee for a stop payment request. Some banks charge $30 or more.

Here are the fees for some of the most popular banks. Note that some banks waive stop payment fees for certain accounts, such as premium accounts, so contact your bank for details.

Bank Stop Payment Fees
Ally $15
Bank of America $30
Capital One $35
Chase $30
Citibank $30
HSBC $30
PNC $33
TD Bank $30
Fargo Well $31

Fees as of November 18, 2022

5. Contact Recipient

If you stopped paying because you made an honest mistake on the check, notify the recipient and arrange to send a new check.

If you have a dispute with a merchant or service provider, let them know that you stopped paying checks when resolving the dispute. You can always send a new check if you are happy with the resolution.

6. Pay attention to the expiration date

When your bank authorizes a stop payment order, pay attention to the expiration date. These orders usually last six months. If the bank can’t trace the check by the time the order ends, the recipient may still be able to cash it.

Your bank may allow you to extend the order if you contact them before it expires. This may incur additional charges.

Some banks will not cash checks that are older than six months. Call your bank and ask about their “stale check” policy. If you haven’t cashed a check for more than six months, there’s no need to renew your stop-pay order.

Can You Stop Automatic Recurring Payments?

You can stop recurring payments as long as they haven’t been processed.

If this payment was arranged through your bank’s online bill payment, please contact your bank at least three days before your next payment date. If you don’t contact them in time, subsequent payments may still be made, but future payments will be cancelled.

Some banks allow you to verbally submit this request. Others require written confirmation. Check with your bank for policies.

If recurring payments are arranged through a service provider, such as your utility company or a streaming TV service, contact the provider and ask them directly to cancel the payment. It’s easier than requesting a checkout through your bank and saves on checkout fees.

Can You Stop Paying a Cashier’s Check or Money Order?

You can’t stop paying a cashier’s check or money order because it requires prepayment. The only potential exception is in the case of fraud.

However, you can cancel a cashier’s check or money order. This is a permanent action, unlike stop payments, which are temporary. This process can take up to 90 days and is subject to a fee of $30 or more.

Final Word

You can avoid having to place a stop payment order by being careful when writing checks. Review the information to make sure everything is accurate and you’re sending the check to the right recipient.

If you dispute a fee with a merchant or service provider, try contacting them first to see if you can find a solution. This can save you from incurring stop paying fees.

That said, life happens. It’s good to know how to stop paying by check if you need to do so because time can be of the essence.

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