My daughter's checkbook was stolen last Saturday, she reported it to the bank Monday morning 10am and told them to cancel all the checks. She told the police earlier. We're in the USA.

Her account was debited Wednesday from a forged (and cashed) check from that pack. There's no date past the year on the picture of the check.

Is it reasonable to think the bank is still honoring canceled checks?

Or maybe that calling them up and telling them that they've been stolen isn't the same as canceling them?

What should we do/have done?

Edit to answer questions:
1) The check was for $1700
2) The signature was obviously forged.
3) It was cashed at a bank, i.e. not written to a vendor.

Edit for Resolution:
1) Bank returned (reversed?) the money.
2) She has closed the account(s) affected and opened new accounts.
3) More fraudulent checks were written but either bounced because of lack of funds or bounced because of the cancel on the checks (I'm cynical enough to suspect the former but whatever).

Thank you all very much.

up vote 7 down vote accepted

Keeping in mind the automated world that we live in, the answer depends in part on the amount of the check. Banks and credit unions may not question a nominal amount (less than $500). That's not to say it's right, just a practicality.

If a stopped check has cleared, it should be a simple matter (although a PITA) to call the bank and have it reversed. It should not be an issue, especially if you had previously filed the report with them.

A little known fact about stopped checks is that the stop is often only good for a short period of time (only six months at some banks) at which time the 'stops' are no longer valid. This means you that you'll have to reissue the stop payment order for the remaining checks. The safest (yes, BIG PITA), is to close the account and re-open a new one. Remember to contact the valid outstanding vendors who were rightfully paid and advise them of the fraud. Usually, they'll waive any NSF fees.

Good luck.

  • 1
    @DarkMatter The main thing (if US banks' Ts&Cs are similar to those in the UK) is that she's told them promptly. As Jbowman says, the modern automated world means some things may slip through initially, but these should be reversed in due course without any penalty to your daughter, but this process might take a little time. – TripeHound Sep 14 at 7:47
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    $1700, cashed at a bank. – Dark Matter Sep 14 at 11:11

As Jbowman mentions, the STOP on a check is only valid for a fixed period of time, typically six months. However, that's a stop on a check that you signed. In this case, the signature on the check presumably looks nothing like the exemplar your daughter provided when she opened the account. That's why the check should not have been paid, and that's the approach I would take when talking to the bank.

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    If a whole handbag was stolen it's quite likely that the thief would have a signature to copy, at least well enough to pass a casual look at a scan of a cheque (now they're handled electronically) – Chris H Sep 14 at 10:39

There is nothing much you can do to avoid someone trying to use stolen blank checks, except alarming the bank, and then run after every bad check to get the money back. This is a consequence of the antiquated paper check system that is based mostly on trust, and broken by the bank's willingness to accomodate people who 'forgot' their IDs.
If you want to avoid the hassle, close the account and open a new one.

Understand that anyone can order unlimited amounts of blank checks with any account number and number range - businesses do that all the time, and it's of course perfectly legal, if you give your own account number.
Stolen blank checks only save the thief the $3.95 for having them printed himself.

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