How to Cancel a Check Quickly

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Updated on Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Canceling a check after it’s been lost or stolen is undoubtedly a stressful situation. It can be made even more stressful by the fact that you have to act quickly once you’ve discovered a check is missing.  Requesting a stop payment order — the formal term for cancelling a check — if it hasn’t been cashed yet. These are the five steps you’ll need to take if you have to cancel a check.

How to cancel a check: Step by step

Step 1: Check to see if the check has cleared

Before you try to cancel a check, review your bank account to see if the check has been posted in your transaction history. If the check hasn’t cleared yet, you’ll need to act fast to call the bank or submit a request to stop payment online — especially if you suspect the check was stolen.

Step 2: Get the check details

Again, speediness is key when you’re trying to get a check cancelled before it’s been deposited. Before you contact your bank, you should have the following information available to you:

  • Your account number
  • The number of the check you’d like to cancel
  • The exact amount written on the check.

You may also need this information at the ready:

  • The date on the check
  • Name of the check recipient (aka the “payee”)
  • Name of the person who signed the check

Step 3: Call your bank to request to cancel the check

Before a check can be cancelled, you have to give your bank notice either orally or in writing (depending on your bank’s protocol). If you’re not sure what the best way to contact your bank is regarding check issues, try making a request online, at the branch, or by calling the phone number found on the back of your card. If the check hasn’t already been processed, you should be in luck. As soon as the bank authorizes your request, the check should be canceled immediately.

Step 4: Prepare to get hit with a fee

Cancelling a check may save you money, but it will also cost you. Most banks have fees associated with putting a stop payment on a check. Before you cancel the check you should ask your bank about fees. Here are some of the check cancelling fees associated with popular banks.

Bank fees for canceled checks
Bank of America$30

Waived for: Customers with Advantage Relationship Banking, Advantage with Tiered Interest Checking, Advantage Regular Checking accounts and Preferred Rewards.
Chase$25 if paid online or by automated telephone banking.
$30 if paid during a customer service call or at branch.

Waived for: customers with Chase Sapphire Checking.

Waived for: Customers with Citigold and Citi Priority accounts and Private Bank clients.
Capital One$25

TD Bank$30

Waived for: customers with TD Relationship Checking & Savings, TD Premier Checking, Private Tiered Checking and Private High Yield Savings accounts.
Wells Fargo$31

Waived for: customers with Performance Select Checking.
U.S. Bank$35 for general customers.
$20 for Premium and Platinum Checking customers.
$0 for members of the military.

If you need to cancel multiple checks, some banks (such as Navy Federal Credit Union and Pentagon Federal Credit Union) may give you a discount. Stoping payment on multiple checks at once may not cost much more than the first cancellation.

Step 5: Check the fine print

Do note that just because a check has been cancelled, it does not mean the cancellation is permanent. Generally, stop payment orders last around six months, though sometimes they can last a year or longer, depending on the bank. Make sure to review the fine print regarding when the cancellation order ends so you can renew it for another period. Although, most banks don’t cash checks that are older than six months, you may want to renew the cancellation period as an added precaution.

How to stop a fraudulent check

If a stolen or missing check is cashed before you cancel it, there are still steps you can take to protect yourself. If you report a fraudulent check to the bank, even after it’s been cashed your bank may remove the charges, if the fraud is reported to them in a timely manner.

The recurring theme of the day? Act quickly when you suspect a check is lost or stolen in order to take advantage of any check cancelling options that may be available to you.

If you believe you’ve been tricked by a counterfeit check scam, after you’ve dealt with your bank directly you should report the fraud to the following agencies: