Stop payment requests on checks are processed by a bank employee on the request of an account holder. Stop payments often are used in the instance of a lost or stolen check but can also be used when a person has decided not to issue payment for a bill or services and for other reasons. Stop payments can be very useful but must be requested as soon as possible to be effective.
A stop payment on a check allows a person to contact the bank or credit union and request that the check not be paid upon presentation. There is a fee charged for a stop payment, and that fee varies by the financial institution. A stop payment initially may be placed via a phone call but must be followed up with a signed request.
A stop payment request remains in place for six months and can be renewed for an additional six months. This time is sufficient to prevent a check from being cashed. Most checks are considered valid only for a 180-day period.
A stop payment is initiated when you contact the bank, but the bank must process the paperwork and get the order into action. In some cases, the check has been cashed prior to the stop payment being requested or before it is fully active within your bank. Once a check has been cashed or withdrawn from your account, you cannot initiate a stop payment order. A stop payment can only prevent a check from being paid by the bank; it will not recover funds that already have been paid.
You might be able to stop a check that has been deposited by the other person, depending on how far the check is in the process. A check is deposited in one bank and then must go through an electronic process to clear at the account holder's bank. If the funds have not been withdrawn from the account holder's bank account, there may still be time to stop payment. The faster you contact your bank and get the process started, the more likely you are to have a successful stop payment order.