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Lost Check
Old 09-09-2019, 09:32 AM   #1
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Lost Check

Paid the garden guy last week with a check. Yesterday, he tells me he lost the check. Probably fell out of his pocket when he pulled out his wallet. No idea where.

He and his father before him have maintained the landscape here (and installed most of it) for 28 years. Not a trust issue of any kind. I gave him a new check, and he suggested stopping payment on the old check.

In this day and age, I'm wondering if a "stop payment" is enough. With a check that has the account number and a signature, a fraudster could quickly drain the account.

Since I have had this account for a long time, I prefer not to close the account and open a new one. Is this necessary? Before I visit the bank, what do you all suggest?
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Old 09-09-2019, 09:49 AM   #2
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I suggest using Venmo, Billpay or Paypal in the future.
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Old 09-09-2019, 09:57 AM   #3
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I'd suggest that they pay for the cost of stopping the lost check. Banks charge a lot for it, mine charges $25. No reason for you to have to pay for their loss of the check. I'd just cancel it and not worry about it.
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Old 09-09-2019, 10:03 AM   #4
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I'd ask your bank. I'm sure a stop payment is as much as you'd need to do. Going forward, if you still need to use a check to pay them, you can setup an auto-check pay through your bank. I have it for my lawn service, and they just go an cut and mail a check every month for me.
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Old 09-09-2019, 10:24 AM   #5
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I would open a new account. A little off topic but someone once stole a check that I'd written and dropped in my mailbox with the flag up. I'd written the check for $16 and I had no idea it had had been stolen until I got a call from a branch of my bank 100 miles away. The thieves had "washed" the check and changed the amount to a few hundred dollars and made it out to cash. The bank teller questioned it and the guy trying to cash it ran off, obviously not a professional "washer". That was probably 15 years ago and ever since then I've dropped all my outgoing mail at the post office and rarely do I write a check. Online payments or Paypal or one of the other services is the way to go. In California mail theft is huge problem, they break into the locked mailboxes in the housing tracts and even cut open the blue Post Office mailboxes in the street. I would also tell the gardener you want to Paypal his payment in future.You can also set your checking account up (if you decide to keep it) to get a text every time a transaction of a penny or more happens. It's a great feature, I haven't even left the drive thru window and I get a text of the amount I just spent for my lunch.
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Old 09-09-2019, 11:01 AM   #6
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I pay my lawn guy in cash, which I put out for him in a hidden place in the back yard.

In 14-15 years of having him mow for me, only once did that cash apparently vanish or get stolen. Or maybe I forgot to put it out. Anyway, when he knocked and told me the money wasn't there, I paid him immediately.

When averaged over 14.5 years, the cost of each mow therefore averages $35.04 instead of the agreed upon $35.00. His services are worth it so I really don't care.
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Old 09-09-2019, 11:22 AM   #7
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I'd ask my bank and see if you can get their response in writing via an email. Do what they tell you and keep the email...your risk is then mitigated.
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Old 09-09-2019, 11:30 AM   #8
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Some years ago I wrote code that handled distribution checks that were lost in the mail. Seems like a stop was the most restrictive thing you could do. These checks were from big issues like CAT. They certainly don't change their bank account.
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Old 09-09-2019, 11:31 AM   #9
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That makes me wonder why we use an outdated routing and account number system visible on the check. Surely some unique encoded numbering system could be used instead. The current system is not designed for modern transactions. Legitimate paper checks that are not lost make you just as vulnerable.
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Old 09-09-2019, 11:44 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by Another Reader View Post
...
In this day and age, I'm wondering if a "stop payment" is enough. With a check that has the account number and a signature, a fraudster could quickly drain the account.
...
I wrote three gift checks that were not cashed and I've been waiting to reconcile. I know one will be cashed; one I will replace; and the third has been sitting in the recipient's kitchen in a drawer for almost two years--I've already mentioned it to them and they blew me off, so if they want a replacement they'll have to beg me for it.

I researched payment terms and the consensus is that most checks are never seen by a real person and a stop payment may or may not work. Even though most banks consider a check to be "stale" at more than six months old, they still slip through. I guess I'll keep $650 extra in our checking account just in cases.
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Old 09-09-2019, 12:14 PM   #11
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That makes me wonder why we use an outdated routing and account number system visible on the check. Surely some unique encoded numbering system could be used instead. The current system is not designed for modern transactions. Legitimate paper checks that are not lost make you just as vulnerable.
That is why modern systems are digital. Venmo, Paypal, etc.
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Old 09-09-2019, 12:20 PM   #12
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I'd not close the account, just watch for improper activity. Check fraud is reversed as easily, if not more easily, than electronic.
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Old 09-09-2019, 01:19 PM   #13
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That is why modern systems are digital. Venmo, Paypal, etc.


But my point was none of those modern systems protect paper checks from being abused. As I transition out of DIY mode and seek various services Im finding many providers only accept cash or check. They might take Venmo, but not PayPal, etc. Sorry for the sidetrack.
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Old 09-09-2019, 01:52 PM   #14
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But my point was none of those modern systems protect paper checks from being abused. As I transition out of DIY mode and seek various services Im finding many providers only accept cash or check. They might take Venmo, but not PayPal, etc. Sorry for the sidetrack.
We need to be the source of the change and educate some of these providers that modern payment systems are safer/easier than a paper check.

My wife and I were just talking the other day about how often we run into Square at food trucks and other small businesses. I can't imagine some surviving without this technology.

I can't remember the last time I wrote a check.
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Old 09-09-2019, 02:57 PM   #15
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I wouldn't close the account. Your risk is that the old check is actually found by someone else--it probably just got misplaced or thrown in the trash never to be seen by someone again--AND that someone must have malicious intent and knowledge how to take advantage of it. As has already been said, you're at a lot more risk every time you put a check in the mail, because those can be stolen, and most likely the thief has a plan to take advantage of having the check.

The Stop Payment may not keep someone from cashing the check, but it would stop the money from being taken out of your account, wouldn't it? And most places will put a hold on any check not written out of their bank (so that they could check for sufficient funds), don't they? Otherwise what's to keep someone from printing checks on a bogus account and making them out to Cash and cashing them?
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Old 09-09-2019, 05:27 PM   #16
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But my point was none of those modern systems protect paper checks from being abused. As I transition out of DIY mode and seek various services Im finding many providers only accept cash or check. They might take Venmo, but not PayPal, etc. Sorry for the sidetrack.
Do you know how many micr readers exist in little podunk places? Think of all the billions of dollars, just in hardware, that processes those antiquated checks.
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Old 09-09-2019, 07:38 PM   #17
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Put a Stop Payment on the check. However, it only works if the check has not been cashed so do it right away. I wouldn't close the account.
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Old 09-09-2019, 08:57 PM   #18
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Do you know how many micr readers exist in little podunk places? Think of all the billions of dollars, just in hardware, that processes those antiquated checks.


Huh? Sorry to be dense, but huh? I like the idea of being the source pushing for change! How do I do that?
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Old 09-09-2019, 09:00 PM   #19
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You seem to realize that a checking account can be in jeopardy if the information gets into the wrong hands. From my personal experience I can tell you this is true. If I were in your shoes, I would be in favor of stopping payment on the check and getting a different account number.

Is that going too far? I don't think so. You have no idea where the original check is and that can be very bad news. Protect your account.
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Old 09-10-2019, 05:19 AM   #20
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If access to the account and routing numbers on checks was all it took to steal your money we would all be broke. Nefarious individuals in all of the companies who receive our payments would simply copy the checks and steal us blind. Give the guy a new check.
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