Suppose I receive a check. Maybe it's for employment, or a class-action settlement, or maybe even just a graduation present from a relative. Doesn't matter. Point is, it grants me some amount of money.

Now, let's say that I somehow lose the check in a public place. The details of that doesn't matter either, except that the check is still intact and is easily found.

Assume the following:

  • I live in the United States, specifically New York state.
  • The check is made out to me, and my name (which is very uncommon) is spelled correctly. It also specifies a valid monetary amount.
  • I still have my wallet, debit card, bank account credentials, and other important financial info.
  • The check itself is perfectly legitimate, as is my reason for receiving it.
  • The person who found my check does not know who I am.
  • I haven't endorsed, signed, or otherwise written anything on the check.
  • The person who found my check is in the United States, but not necessarily in New York (maybe I had to go to New Jersey for the day).

Given the above, if someone else acquired a check made out to me, could they use it for nefarious purposes (i.e. to bleed me dry)?

  • Can you explain why you use the phrase "to bleed me dry"? That sounds like it is a check that you made out on your check account, not a check you received made out by someone else on their check account. Or am I missing something?
    – Peter K.
    May 19, 2016 at 20:41
  • 1
    @PeterK. Just a phrase, I guess. To take money that is rightfully mine. I didn't write a check to anybody.
    – JesseTG
    May 19, 2016 at 20:45

1 Answer 1


They can go to an ATM and deposit it in to their account. The ATM does not care to read the name, and the bank does not care to verify anything if the check goes through (meaning the bank it is drawn on pays). So if nobody complains, that's it, he has your money.

You would need to go to the check-writer's bank and ask for help, or look at the check-writer's cancelled check copy if you get to it. That bank can find out where it was deposited to, and then you have to go after the guy and get your money back - if it is still recoverable! - if it is a poor sod and he already blew your 5 grand, you can sue his pants off, but there are no 5 grand in them anywhere. So bad luck for you.

Technically, the bank is not supposed to accept the check if the name doesn't match. At the counter, that might get a question, but as said above, there are deposit ATMs, and he could also just endorse the check to himself and sign the endorsement with some illegible scrawling, and claim that this is your signature - how would Joe the teller know? Either way, he gets the check in his account, and then he can take it out and blow it. It is legally clearly theft or fraud, and probably a federal crime, but if the guy is bankrupt, that doesn't help you much.

Depending on that bank's fine-print, they might or might not cover your loss, but I wouldn't hold my breath.

Better don't lose a check.

  • The check is not from the OP's account; going to his own bank will do nothing. If the check gets fraudulently cashed, it is the check issuer that is (temporarily) out the money, not the OP.
    – Ben Miller
    May 20, 2016 at 0:46
  • @BenMiller, you are of course right. I changed the text.
    – Aganju
    May 20, 2016 at 0:50
  • The OP shouldn't go to the check writer's bank, either. There is nothing they can do for him. Only the check writer can do anything about this. All the OP can do is inform the check writer. The answer on the duplicate question covers this very well.
    – Ben Miller
    May 20, 2016 at 1:32

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