Running a Stop Payment on a Check: FAQ

Fraud, Atm, Security, Bank, Money, Capital, Protection

What does the term “stop payment” mean? 

Stop payments are one of the most frequently requested banking services by customers. A stop payment, also known as a “check hold,” indicates that your bank will not allow the check’s recipient to cash it.

This service must be requested before funds are withdrawn from your account––it cannot be canceled after funds have been withdrawn. When a stop payment is requested, it is usually processed within 1-5 business days. 

This guide is for you if you’re unsure whether it’s possible to stop a check. We’ll go over who has authority over checks, how long it takes your bank to process your request, and more.

What does a stop payment mean?

A “check hold” or a “stop payment” means that your checks will not be allowed to clear when presented by the recipient at the bank. 

If a check is not able to clear, it will show as “uncollected” or “stopped payment” on the recipient’s monthly statement, and they won’t be allowed to cash your check(s).

Can I cancel my stop payment? 

You can ask your bank to cancel the hold, but keep in mind that there is usually a fee involved. Your bank will also withdraw the funds from your account as soon as possible (usually within three business days), so make sure those checks are clear before canceling the stop payment request.

When should I use a “check hold” service, and when should I not?

Stop payments are most commonly used to prevent fraud. Because of restrictive banking policies, it may be impossible to prevent the payment from being cashed by the recipient in some cases. 

However, if you cannot cancel the payment for some reason, you can still place a stop payment on the check. If your bank does not provide this service or you cannot use it for the reasons stated above, you have another option: a post-dated check.

What is a post-dated check?

The concept behind this service is to write “void” or “post-dated” on the front of your check. This instructs the recipient to keep it until the date written in ink rather than depositing it immediately. If they cash it before then (which is against the law), they are liable for the check, and you will not be held responsible.

How long does it take to stop a payment?

Typically, your bank will process the request within one to five business days after they receive notice from you or an authorized person (such as someone with access to your account). If this isn’t possible for some reason, such as if there’s not enough time or the recipient has already deposited it, your bank is required to notify you in writing.

Who has authority over my check?

The check’s issuer is always responsible for paying it, and they have sole control over canceling or stopping their payments. In most cases, this person will be your employer when you’re writing a payroll check, and the recipient will be your bank. If you’re not sure who to contact, it’s best to reach out directly and ask for guidance or instructions on how to proceed.

Can I still use the account after stopping payments?

You would need to contact your bank directly and ask about their policies. If you’re able, once the stop payment request has been completed, you can continue using that account as usual. However, there are some cases where this isn’t allowed or comes with certain limitations (such as being unable to write additional checks).

If the bank won’t honor my stop payment, what can I do to fix this problem?

If you have experienced any difficulty with your stop payment request, it’s best to speak up as soon as possible. If the bank states they cannot process the request or cancel the hold for some reason, try speaking directly with one of their representatives and ask about why that is happening. You can also always contact a manager if needed since this often provides more support.

How much does it cost to run a stop payment on my check?

The fees for this service will vary based on the bank you use, where your account is located (e.g., different states often have their own regulations), and how much notice they receive before the check has been cashed. Because of these variables, it’s best to ask about stop payment options directly with your bank or speak to an authorized individual.

Can my bank cancel the check if I don’t have enough money in there?

If you are unable to write a stop payment request because you do not have enough funds in your account, your bank will charge you an overdraft fee (which means they may take that amount from another account or demand immediate payment). In this case, you must resolve the problem as soon as possible and ensure that your balance is sufficient before attempting to stop payments on any future checks.

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What types of payments can you request a “stop payment” service on?

This service can be used on paper checks, electronic transactions (ACH), money orders, and wire transfers. In some cases, you may need to contact your bank directly for more information about their policies to stop payment requests.

  • Paper checks: This is the most common and widely-used type of stop payment request. This includes written checks such as payroll, direct deposit refunds, personal payments (including bills), or any other situation where you have printed a check.
  • Electronic transactions: If you’ve used your debit/credit card or made an ACH transfer to make a payment, it’s possible to stop this transaction using a similar method as paper checks. Many banks will accept requests via phone, online banking, or in person at their branch location.
  • Money orders: This is another popular payment option for many people, so you can use a stop payment to cancel the check. Money orders are widely available at banks, credit unions, and various retail locations (grocery stores, convenience stores). If you’ve purchased a money order to make your payment, this can be canceled in much the same way as paper checks.
  • Wire transfers: Like electronic transactions and money orders, these requests are processed similarly. If you need to stop payments on wire transfers that have been sent by another party (such as when making an international payment), you’ll need to contact the bank directly about this request.

What if I only have part of the check number?

Check numbers are often used to identify your payment and help direct it towards the correct account (so that you receive all of your funds in return). If this has happened, contact your bank immediately to find out why they may not be honoring your request.

If I stop a check from being cashed, when will my funds be available?

It depends on your bank’s specific policies and procedures. Still, many places expect that you’ll receive your payment within one to two business days after the hold has been placed (whether it is for an electronic transaction or paper check). If you haven’t received your payment within this time, contact them to find out what the hold is and if it has been removed.

What happens when someone tries to cash a check that I’ve stopped?

In most cases, this request will be denied by the bank. In these situations, the person who wrote the check (or their account) will be responsible for covering any costs you incurred due to this transaction.

Do I need to notify my bank when someone cashes a stopped payment?

No, this is not necessary. However, if you notice that your account has been debited for an amount different from what was expected (such as receiving less money or no refund), it would be wise to contact their customer service team to find out why this happened.

Can I stop a check that has already been cashed?

No, once a check is considered “cleared,” it cannot be canceled or stopped. If you’re trying to prevent someone from receiving funds on their paycheck (or any other type of payment), contact your bank as soon as you can.

What happens to the funds if I stop a check?

This is dependent on how long it has been since it was printed and cashed by another party (or institution). If this is a recent occurrence, the funds will be held in your account until everything is resolved with their customer service team. If it has been a long time, the money will most likely be sent to the person who cashed this payment (or deposited it in their account).

Is it legal to stop a check?

Yes, this is completely legal and very common. In fact, most banks have policies that will allow you to cancel or “stop” any payment for your protection (and peace of mind). However, there are some exceptions, such as court-ordered payments, which cannot be stopped without assistance from law enforcement first.

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