Few personal finance hassles are more annoying than someone who doesn't cash a check for a month or more. If you forget you wrote that check weeks or even months later, you might overdraw your account. If you can't get ahold of the business or person who has your check to see if they've cashed it, you can contact your bank or check your account digitally to see if the check has cleared.
Read More: How to Trace a Cashed Check
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Canceled vs. Cashed Check
A cashed check is one that has been presented for payment and the person or business has received money for it. A cancelled check is one that your bank has paid, using money from your account.
For example, you give a $100 check to Bob. Bob cashes the check at ABC Bank and receives $100. The check then goes to your bank so it can pay ABC Bank, which gave Bob the $100. Your bank withdraws $100 from your account, sends ABC Bank the money and cancels your check.
In most cases, banks and other financial institutions won't cash a check unless the person presenting it has enough money in their account to cover it should the check bounce.
If someone has $500 in their account and they want to cash a $1,000 check, their bank won't let them because if the check bounces, the bank can only recover $500. The bank will wait until the other bank pays the $1,000, then the person who presented the $1,000 check can use that money.
For this reason, if the person you wrote your check to cashes it on a Wednesday, the transaction might not show up on your account until Thursday or Friday. Banks that accept third-party checks might need even more time.
Call Your Bank
The quickest way to see if a check has been cashed is to call your bank. Use the phone number on the back of your debit card or on your monthly bank statement. You'll need to provide your bank account number and the check number, along with some personal identification, such as your Social Security number or PIN.
If you want to see if a cashier's or certified check has been cashed, you'll need the numbers from the bottom of the check to give to the customer service representative.
Login to Your Online Account
If you've set up online access to your checking account, login and check your recent transactions. If you have many, you might be able to do a quick sort and just view check transactions. If you know your check number and the amount, you should be able to easily find whether or not the check has been cancelled (not cashed). Many banks let you see an image of the actual check once it's been cancelled. If you don't have this feature, you might be able to get it for a fee.
Use a Mobile App
In addition to setting up an online account, you can probably download a mobile banking app your bank offers and check your account. The processes for checking your transactions will be similar to what you do when checking online accounts.
Check Your Monthly Statement
If you get paper statements, check all that you've received since you wrote your check. People don't always cash checks in the order you received them, so it's possible that check number 208 you're wondering about cleared the month before checks number 206 and number 207 on this month's statement. As with online accounts, your statement might include copies of your cancelled checks. If not, ask about paying for this service.
Visit a Bank Branch
If you'll be near a branch of your bank, stop in and ask to speak with a customer service representative. You'll need your ID, checking account number, the check number and one or two more pieces of information such as the last four digits of your Social Security number, account PIN or security password.
Read More: How to Dispute a Cashed Check
Stopping Payment on a Check
In some cases, you might want to try to stop payment on a check. For example, you purchase something from someone and it's broken or they don't deliver it, you won't want to pay them for it. Once you've written a check and given it to someone, it's very difficult to stop payment.
Banks don't get into he-said/she-said disputes. If the person has cashed the check, it's almost impossible to stop payment, even if your bank hasn't paid on the check. Your bank, in essence, would be stiffing another bank.
If the person cashes the check and then writes another check and you've stopped payment, her check might bounce because she doesn't have enough money in her account to cover her check. That can damage her credit and cost her fees. She might then take action against your bank or you.
If the issue is theft or fraud, you can usually stop payment.