Back when banking was local, before the age of electronic transactions, the notion of a lost or stolen check wasn’t as worrisome as it is today. Back then, bankers were likely to know you, and you felt that the signature card you signed when you opened your account would protect your checks from forgers. Today’s electronic world means banks automatically process checks without a signature check. Electronic also means rapid processing, so if you discover missing checks, you must act quickly, which may save you from financial loss and liability, and even prevent identity theft.
Gather and record as much information as you can about the check or checks. If your blank checks have disappeared, you’ll need your account number, the missing check numbers, the bank routing number and the names of those on the account. If the check was written to you, try to recall the bank from which the check was drawn, who wrote you the check, the check’s amount and the check number. You’ll provide the information when you report the checks missing.
Contact your bank as soon as you notice the missing checks. You could be responsible for losses if someone uses your checks unless you contact the bank and report unauthorized account activity immediately.
Report stolen checks to the police in the city where the checks were taken. Make sure you keep a copy of the police report so you can prove you took responsible action.
Report your lost or stolen checks to TeleCheck and Certegy, and have your bank contact ChekSystems. These are the major check-verification agencies. Banks and merchants use such agencies to verify the legitimacy of checks and electronic transactions. Fill out the required forms and mail or fax them to the respective organizations.
Notify the person or group that issued you the check if you are the payee of the missing or stolen check. The issuer will need to put a "stop payment" on the check. Each entity will have its own check replacement procedure that you’ll need to follow.
Several verification agencies exist. If you’re not going to close your bank account, you might want to contact them all. (see Resources).
When you report your checks missing, the bank may ask you to stop payment on the check, which costs money. "Stop payments" don’t last indefinitely. You must renew them after six months. If enough checks are missing, you may have to close your account.
- San Diego Police Department: What to Do If Your Purse or Wallet Is Lost or Stolen
- Georgia Bureau of Investigation: Contact Banking and Credit Card Companies
- ChekSystems: Identity Theft Information
- DCU: If Your Wallet or Purse Is Lost or Stolen
- National Check Fraud Center: 20 UCC Provisions Every Banker Should Know
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