Bank of America Makes You Renew Stop Payments On Checks Twice A Year

At many banks once you stop payment on a specific check, it’s dead forever. Bank of America has a different policy, though, the New York Times reports. Once you stop payment on a check, that’s just the beginning of a lifetime ordeal. You’ll have to renew your stoppage every six months, otherwise the check is fair game to be cashed or deposited once again.

Worse, every time you renew the validation you’ll have to pay another $30.

BofA customers, are any of you paying $60 a year to stop a rogue check from sapping your bank account?

Stop Payment. Now Stop It Again. [The New York Times via Yahoo Finance](Thanks, Chiko!)


Edit Your Comment

  1. Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

    How is this not illegal?

    They do not do this to business customers who issue stop checks.

    So the cheaper option if you ever have a stop check is to just close your account.

  2. Rectilinear Propagation says:

    At many banks once you stop payment on a specific check, it’s dead forever.

    Wait, is this true? I’ve seen it where the stop on a check is only for some number of months before.

    • strathmeyer says:

      Yes, it’s true, it’s called, “gouging your customers and hoping they won’t notice”. What other tricks work on you?

      • Rectilinear Propagation says:

        Well clearly this doesn’t “work on me” since I did notice the fee.

        I don’t know what’s up your ass but you can point the vitrol in another direction.

  3. zigziggityzoo says:

    This is true for all banks, so I thought.

    A Stop Payment only stays in the system for 180 days. After that period, it must be renewed.

    I’ve been told this by PNC bank, TCF bank, 5/3 Bank, and Chase.

    • joncarwash says:

      And as others have said, checks in the US typically expire after 180 days (unless a shorter period is noted on the check).

      The issue would be in the case of check fraud, where someone modifies the contents (i.e. date) and cashes it. In that situation, though, you would have recourse thanks to the fraud rules.

      So, you should be covered. If you’re paranoid enough to spend money to extend the stop, you’re probably already blowing $10 a month (or whatever it is) on LifeLock, so you won’t miss a few extra dollars that won’t get you any net benefit.

      • domcolosi says:

        I double checked this to be sure:

        Although some banks may refuse payment on a check older than 6 months (which is a bit longer than 180 days), they are not required to do so, and many do not. If the cashier doesn’t take note of the date, he/she may still pay out the check, in which case the issuer would be responsible, even if the check was old.

        • slychocodile says:

          I definitely wouldn’t count on the teller paying attention to the date, I once had a teller “cash” a direct deposit slip that clearly said “this is not a check.” when I grabbed the wrong stub out of my bag. I noticed outside in the parking lot and went back in with the real check, but if someone could miss that, they probably wouldn’t pay too much attention to a date.

  4. Miz_Ivy says:

    Another reason I’m so glad I no longer have BofA. This is totally asinine. Once you stop payment on a check it should be stopped for good, stopped is stopped. There is no reason why you should have to keep renewing it indefinitely to keep BofA from honoring it.

    • Murph1908 says:

      Though I agree in theory, I think there is a logical reason why it needs to be renewed.

      If it didn’t, the list of dead checks continues to grow and grow, never being purged of older checks less likely to rear their heads.

      As this database of account numbers and check numbers increases, so does the time it takes to make sure a check you are currently cashing/depositing isn’t on the list.

      The banking industry’s solution seems to be, if it’s over 6 months old, it’s stale and shouldn’t be accepted for deposit or cashing. Mistakes happen, though, and you can ensure yourself against this mistake by renewing the stop.

      • Rayon Fog says:

        They have computers now.

        • 67alecto says:

          And some of them even have the Internet

          • Murph1908 says:

            Apparently, none of you know thing one about computers and databases.

            The more records you have to search, the more time it takes to search them. Every check deposited or cashed by a business or individual has to be run against the database (or a mirrored copy somewhere). If that search takes a half a second longer to search today than it did yesterday, that holds up the next query in line. These small delays can turn into large delays due to volume.

            If the list is not trimmed periodically (more often than when accounts are closed) the delays will get longer and longer.

            I am not saying I agree with the $60 a year solution. Just pointing out the realities behind it.

      • sqlrob says:

        There’s these things called “databases” that would handle this. Millions or billions of records can be queried in the matter of seconds or less. Plus, just how large do you think this would be? It’s not a common thing, especially at $30 a shot.

        It can get purged as accounts get closed, it’s not infinitely growing.

      • vastrightwing says:

        Or, a much simpler answer is that banks can charge customers and not take responsibility. There are these awesome new things called computers. They allow huge amounts of data to be stored and checked with little to no human labor involved. If the banking industry is interested, I can help them make use of this new technology to allow them to do their job right.

  5. _Rand_ says:

    Should I ever move to the USA, this will be yet another reason added to my list of reasons to stay the hell away from BofA.

    The article does state that they generally don’t cash 6 month old cheques, but it should really be never, not generally. Smells like scare tactics to me.

    • chatterboxwriting says:

      I forgot to put a stop payment on a check and someone ended up cashing it over a year later. The teller probably didn’t notice the date, so she cashed it. So it definitely happens.

  6. FatLynn says:

    I thought most banks won’t cash a check more than 6 months old, anyway.

    • Polish Engineer says:

      Unfortunately no. Once you write a check it’s a legal obligation from there on out. It goes stale and sometimes the banks do a little more digging before they cash it, but they are under no obligation to do so.

      I was also under the impression it only took one stop payment, but the banks no longer surprise me.

      • chocolate1234 says:

        Nope, checks are voided after six months.

        • RomeoCharlie says:

          Checks are not “voided” after any time period, unless noted on the check (see your tax return check, for example). Many banks’ POLICIES state that they will not pay out stale checks, but there is no LEGAL requirement for them to refuse payment. As pointed out above, many banks will purposefully or accidentally cash you old-ass checks whether you’ve forgotten about them or not, which may get you into trouble.

          • maztec says:

            Don’t know what state you are in Romeo, but in my state banks are legally obligated to not deposit checks after 180 days.

            That doesn’t stop a person from fraudulently changing the date though, which is the point of a stop payment request.

    • thewildboo says:

      I’ve worked in a couple of banks (local companies not the big guys) and we did not accept checks older than 6 months.

  7. areaman says:

    I remember the same run around with Washington Mutual.

    With that, their (WaMu) shitty lending antics, and their CEO who says he didn’t know his bank was making shitty loans, I’m glad to see WaMu go.

    I write as few checks as possible. I recently I paid my co worker for something via PayPal so that I wouldn’t have to write a check.

    • pf3 says:

      When I lost my checkbook with WaMu they told me the stop payment on that range of checks would last one year.

    • MaytagRepairman says:

      When my apartment was burglarized I couldn’t account for a checkbook booklet containing about 20 checks. I could stop order all 20 checks in a single stop order but Wamu told me either 180 days of 6 months. I was sick of Wamu anyway so decided it was a convenient time to shop around for a credit union and close my account.

  8. Rectilinear Propagation says:

    Yeah, Wachovia does this too. Check out the tiny type at the bottom of the page:

    • Jeff-er-ee says:

      Yeah, but that’s just a Wells Fargo division now, so I’m not at all surprised.

      • Rectilinear Propagation says:

        Yeah, but that’s not a new rule. That was in place long before they bought them.

  9. smo0 says:

    Checks are only valid for 180 days…. this is total BS.

  10. SkokieGuy says:

    The next time you have checks printed, have the text “Void after 90 days” printed on your checks.

  11. NYGuy1976 says:

    I believe most banks do this. A teller is supposed to remove checks over 6 months old but if its part of a business deposit with loads of checks it will likely go through.

    There is no way it could be forever. If I stopped a check in the 60’s, should the bank still have it on file?

    • Pax says:

      Yes, a stop-order SHOULD be “forever”.

      Let’s say, for giggles, you wrote a check for $25,000 in 1968, to buy a very nice car. For whatever reason, the deal fell through, but the seller “could not find” you check.

      Obviously, you’d slap a “stop” order on it, lickety-split.

      Fast-forward forty-two years. The son of the dealer who “couldn’t find” your check, FINDS it somewhere in his recently-deceased father’s office – and decides to try cashing it, because he’s a dishonest git and all, and why not … right?

      Would you like to suddenly discover that a legitimately-written-by-you check, for twenty-five thousand dollars, had been cashed and the sum debited from your account?

  12. Zini says:

    i thought personal checks are expire after 90 days and business checks expire after 6 months is that not right?

    • Zini says:

      oh never mind i just looked it up

      “It’s really a matter of semantics, but “expire” is really the wrong word to describe what happens to a check that’s more than six months old. There used to be a term — stale dated — that applied to a check that’s reached the ripe old age of six months. Many banks still use that term, but it means something a little different from what many people were told many years ago.

      After a check is six months old, the bank that it’s drawn on has the legal authority to either pay the check — if there’s no current stop payment order on the check — or to bounce the check for the date. If it bounces the check, the bank’s customer cannot fault the bank for wrongfully dishonoring it. If it pays the check, the customer cannot claim the bank shouldn’t have paid it — if there’s no stop order in effect.

      From a practical perspective, if you’ve issued a check that’s now more than six months old, you need to decide whether you want to risk that it will be paid before you add the check amount back to your checkbook balance. If you want to hedge that bet and ensure it won’t be paid, put a stop order on it, and renew the order every six months until you are reasonably assured it won’t show up (or you’re willing to take the risk). There’s a cost for the stop order, so keep that in mind when deciding.

      If you’re holding a check payable to you that’s stale dated, you’re taking a chance if you deposit it and spend the money right away, because the bank it’s drawn on can bounce it. You should consider contacting whoever gave you the check and ask for a replacement.”

  13. markbowman says:

    WTF? So shouldn’t it be called a “Slow Payment Down” then?

    Since it just makes the person have to wait to cash it. It’s such a messed up world out there these days. Every company is out there to cheat and screw you in every way possible. In the past they would have burned a bank to the ground for pulling crap like this and tarred and feathered the owner. Time to bring that practice back.

    • Gramin says:

      Kinda sorta… but still a gamble. If you attempt to cash a check that has a stop payment on it, the bank will keep it and won’t return it. You’re only going to get one shot at successfully cashing that check.

  14. SkokieGuy says:

    Uniform Commercial Code:

    A bank is under no obligation to a customer having a checking account to pay a check, other than a certified check, which is presented more than six months after its date, but it may charge its customer’s account for a payment made thereafter in good faith.

    So “no obligation” means we don’t have to – but we can if we feel like it! And if cashing it means causing overdraft charges, well I think you know how this story ends.

  15. wonderkitty now has two dogs says:

    This is just ridiculously crazy AND asinine. Insane. Ludicrous.

    That’s all I have for now.

    And don’t frequent Bank of America.

  16. Tim says:

    The only way that this make sense is if Bank of America assumes one of the following: 1) customers will be perfectly fine with the check going through after six months, or 2) recipients of said checks will lose the checks within six months.

  17. RandomHookup says:

    When I had to stop a check that didn’t make it to a former tenant, BoA didn’t charge me and I’ve never heard anything about it again. I have the check (returned because the tenant didn’t give me a complete address — I could have just walked it to him if I had known), so it doesn’t matter now.

  18. Smashville says:

    *Looks at byline. Looks at article. Looks at byline. Looks at article.*

    This seems legit. I’m scared.

  19. kamikasee says:

    This is just another reason not to use checks at all.

  20. Oranges w/ Cheese says:

    I thought that most checks become void after a year?

    • EdnaLegume says:

      actually, a check is “supposed” to be void automatically after six months. however, if a teller is having a bad day or is drunk, or blind and that check gets through, it’s good to go, even if it’s over a year or more.

  21. McCheeks says:

    The banks can and will cash checks over six months old; I know from experience working in the industry. With the focus on ATM deposits there is significantly less validation of dates by human beings.

    Old checks and post-dated checks, you are liable from the moment you sign them.

    As far as the fee goes, you should be able to have it waived every time, just use the magic words “lost check”.

  22. Bob Lu says:

    Did some google work

    Can’t be sure whether the information is trustworthy, tho.

  23. nakkypoo says:

    Pretty sure this is true of most banks, if not all.

  24. jdmba says:

    Just a risk shift. If you have a stop, and someone pays it, its their fault. By making you jump through hoops, that same situation can have it land on you.

  25. sanjaysrik says:

    I’ve had ING Direct for almost 5 years, I never have to worry if the check I paid online which ING sends out, has taken the money out of my account, it comes out and ING holds it as though it’s been deducted and paid, if not cashed in 90 days. It comes back.

    Imagine, logical banking?

  26. trey says:

    this is from 3 fricking days ago… way to stay current consumerist.

    • sanjaysrik says:

      shhh, I saw that too. I guess they’re behind on their Fark reading.

    • coren says:

      Yeah, I mean wtf. This information is no longer relevant at all now!

    • JulesNoctambule says:

      I’ve been out of town for the past two fricking days, so it’s all new to me! Funny, isn’t it, how not everyone accesses all information every day?

  27. CaptCynic says:

    I love the ambiguity of BoA here.. Well we probably wouldn’t let the check go through after 6 months, but if you really want to be sure.. pay us. It almost sounds like a mafia protection racket… “Youse wouldn’t want somethin bad to happen, now would ya? I’d be a shame if youse was to bounce that check someday.”

    • NYGuy1976 says:

      The bank does not make much since not that many people place stop payments. A lot of bank services like stops, money orders, official checks, etc. are very expensive not because they want to profit off them but its so to persuade people to not want these from the bank since they are more labor intensive and cost the bank money.

  28. A.Mercer says:

    And with today’s technology, there is no reason why this should happen. A simple bit of database programming and it is very easy to put a lifetime block on a check. The only reason the banks are doing this is to squeeze extra money out of people.

    • JMILLER says:

      Actually, IF BOA or any other bank did that, they would be in violation of the law. Law trumps program eveery time. But a nice effort on your part.

      • mmmsoap says:

        Why? What is illegal about putting a permanent stop on a check? There is a law that states a bank is obligated to consider cashing a check after 6 months?

      • myCatCracksMeUp says:

        What law would the banks be violating?

  29. philc says:

    Actually, this IS the law (Uniform Commercial Code section 4-403 adopted by most, if not all, states)

    A stop payment request, issued in written form, is valid for six months.

  30. SideshowCrono says:

    § 1304.32. (UCC 4-403) Customer’s right to stop payment; burden of proof of loss.

    Part B states…

    “A stop payment order is effective for six months.”

    As far as I knew, this is UCC 101 stuff. Are people that surprised that the bank is following the law in such an exact way which provides them with an easier database of checks to manage? Shocker.

    Let’s hate them anyways. * Rabble rabble rabble *

  31. savdavid says:

    Even if it is true that most banks only stop payment for 6 months, they don’t charge you $30.00 a pop! If they did don’t you think we would have heard complaints before now? Why would anyone believe BOA or do business with them anyway?

  32. ThunderRoad says:

    Close the account. Then there’s nothing to cash it against.

  33. Jeff-er-ee says:

    I’ve got a PERFECT way to stop payment on a check drawn on a B of A account after the initial stop payment is issued…

    Close the account and move to a credit union! Works every time.

  34. bwcbwc says:

    Two workarounds: 1) Don’t use BofA. 2) Print checks that say “void after 120 days” on them. That’s what the businesses do.

    • Orv says:

      Just because it says that doesn’t mean it’s true. I’ve successfully cashed checks that said “void after 60 days” that were more than 60 days old, before.

  35. Roxie says:

    That’s an odd thing for BoA to say. Paper checks are only good for six months, as the article says–past that, they are “stale dated” and cannot be deposited or cashed. Of course, there are exceptions to the rule–some checks might specify how long they’re valid before they become stale-dated. Some are stale-dated sooner than six months. Some items are good forever–like postal money orders. And there are some places that will try to deposit checks electronically, for one last shot at the money, if said checks have been put through the banking system one too many times and would have been returned for good, otherwise. I wonder if it’s this issue of checks being deposited electronically is the reason why a bank may ask someone to extend a stop payment–I don’t know if there are expiration dates on electronically-processed checks, or how stop payment expiration dates figure into all this.

    • coren says:

      There’s no obligation to cash them – they’re still cashable if you find a willing bank. Slightly different.

  36. coren says:

    That’s ridiculous – you could easily end up paying more in fees than the check is worth to continue to block it – and if you don’t, you’re out those fees, AND the value the check is written for. There’s no reason for a stop payment to expire – if you want to pa y someone after you’ve issued one, then just, yknow, pay em

  37. JMILLER says:

    Having read the article, IF the landlord should attempt to cash the check after the 6 month period the tenant would have legal action against his landlord. This has nothing to do with BOA, it is part of the UCC that says 6 months on a check.

  38. DaWezl says:

    And people give me grief for still “carrying” checks from 2001 in my checkbook balance, lol.

    I called my bank many years ago, and asked about whether or not the checks could still be deposited. They warned me that while technically the checks should no longer be good, most automated systems do not bother even looking at the date on the check, so they would most likely be cashed if they were presented for payment. Even paying one payment of $20-30 to stop payment on a $50 check is ridiculous, let alone paying it every six months, so it’s easier to just keep in mind that I have $X in outstanding checks, and treat that amount as a safety fund.

  39. chaosnoise says:

    Argh! Every bank has the 6 month stop. The reason is once it’s 6 months old it’s stale dated so even if a bank accepts it it’s put on hold to determine if funds are available or if it’s bounced or whatever the deal is with it.

  40. Da5idM says:

    All banks are the same as far as I know. Stop payments last six months. Checks are only supposed to last six months, too, but banks don’t always follow that rule. I found that out the hard way.

  41. wetrat says:

    Can we just get rid of checks finally? I can’t think of a more outdated form of payment (although I’m sure the flamewar is about to begin).

  42. Happy Tinfoil Cat says:

    I think a simple solution would be to add some legalese to your checks. I’ve seen things like “Void if not cashed within 60 days”.

    After taking a business law class, I started signing my incoming checks with “with no recourse” which got the bank president infuriated enough to give me a loud, arm-waving, verbal thrashing in front of all the other bank customers. ;^0

    • Happy Tinfoil Cat says:

      If that doesn’t work, there is acid-dipping. The check will disintegrate from a matter of hours to a few weeks, depending on how strong the acid is. “I don’t use archival paper for my checks.”

  43. _UsUrPeR_ says:

    Holy crap. This is incredible.

  44. Abradax says:

    And there are people who write a crapton of checks…..

    I used to work in a bank, it wasn’t uncommon to talk to a little old lady who wrote a hundred checks a month. At some point you will run out of numbers on standard check numbers 1000-9000.

    If checks were stopped permanently, when you come back around to that check number you would be purposely be writing a bad check.

  45. DarkPsion says:

    My bank tried this on a check that got lost in the mail. When they called me and said I would have to pay again after 90 days and every 90 days after than.

    I told them no!

    If I payed them again, I would be out more than the check was worth eventually.

  46. Purplerhinoboy says:

    Alpine Bank in Illinois has done this for years. Their explanation is… If it hasn’t cleared after six months, it never will.

  47. Fafaflunkie Plays His World's Smallest Violin For You says:

    Err… don’t cheques stale-date after 180 days? Must be because I’m Canadian and can’t figure out why you would need to stop-pay a cheque more than once.

  48. common_sense84 says:

    How can banks charge for this? Why would they allow fraudulent checks to be cashed? Once notified, they have a responsibility to stop that check.

  49. Bryan Price says:

    Yet one more reason to never use BoA.

    What I don’t understand is, I thought that checks older than 6 months can’t be cashed anyways. I thought that was always a trip up when the new year comes and people use the wrong year? OK, I just read some comments before hitting Submit. I see that I’m correct.

  50. JeremieNX says:

    Um… This is nothing unusual. A permanent stop pay does not exist for paper cheques (my bank just started offering permanent stop pays for electronic cheques). Most banks will have options such as 6 months, 12 months, or 2 years with varying fees.

    95% of the time, a teller will refuse a cheque over six months old – however that is at branch/teller discretion. I have seen cheques just over six months old be refused, and I have also seen cheques 3 years be cashed.

    Disclosure: I work at a bank.

  51. baristabrawl says:

    How have I missed this crappy service and crummy policies at banks? Oh! Credit unions.

  52. BigBoat2 says:

    “At many banks…” Hey Phil, which banks are those again? I’m curious which banks were not following UCC Art 3 and 4.

    P.S. All you have to do is notify your bank not to cash stale checks. Written stop payment + the notification = no worries about old checks ever bothering you again.

  53. ogsoleysol says:

    “At many banks once you stop payment on a specific check, it’s dead forever.”

    Name one.

  54. bramberkowitz says:

    checks are stale dated after 6 months….therefore it is your decision whether you must place the second….also you can ask to have it until a specified date if you want it longer

  55. vitajex says:

    OK, time for perspective-

    Neither the fee NOR the expiration apply in cases of lost or stolen checks. Therefore, they are both applying to checks that people have written, but don’t want to pay. If the parties haven’t resolved the dispute (the most common reason for a stop) within 6 months, then the bank customer shouldn’t be too concerned about the fee as it could be added to a court claim.

  56. TandJ says:

    Everybody seems to have their panties in a wad over this. Too bad most have no idea what the laws are.

    The UCC provides that a stop payment is effective for six months. The bank is protected by another UCC provision if they pay the check in good faith after the stop payment expires even if the check is “stale”.

    The bank is not protected from an action by their client if they fail to pay the check after the stop payment expires. What if you wanted a check paid after terminating a stop-payment or after letting it expire. If the bank would refuse to pay the item, you would have a cause of action against the bank.

    As a customer, you have some responsibility. Do not write checks if you do not plan on them being paid. Know your vendors.

  57. Emily says:

    Wow, that’s worst company in America material. It’s certainly on the honor roll for worst consumer-related policy.

    I’d just close the account to prevent the lost check from ever going through. I suppose if the customer were feeling forgiving toward Bank of America, s/he could reopen with a different account number… but I wouldn’t.

    • vastrightwing says:

      No. Closing your account won’t work. BoA will re-open your closed account, cash the check and mail you a bill for the overdraft or insufficient funds. Didn’t you know that opening an account is for life? You can close your account anytime you like, but you can never leave.

      Think it over carefully before opening an account at BoA, it’s a lifetime commitment.

  58. guymandude says:

    This is real simple. Have printed on your checks “Void after 30 days”. End of problem.

  59. EdnaLegume says:

    when I worked as a teller in the late 90’s… checks were considered no longer valid after six months. and that is why stop payments were only good for six months. however, if a teller is asleep at the wheel… a check dated after six months can go through the system if the date is overlooked.

  60. vastrightwing says:

    No, a better question to ask is, WHY ARE YOU *STILL* A BOA CUSTOMER? BoA keeps offering new ways to annoy and offend existing customers, yet they are totally resilient to leaving. I wish I had customer this loyal. AMAZING!

  61. chimpski says:

    This is ridiculous!

  62. peebozi says:

    Ahhh, the free market working perfectly. If you don’t want to renew a stop check, and pay $60 per year, every 6 months then simply don’t write any checks that may get lost by the recipient, yourself or employees. And definitely don’t lose your check book or get roobed and have it taken.

    i really don’t see a problem with BoA practices regarding renewing stop payment requests into perpetuity, accidental foreclosures, poor risk management (actually, when they were bailed out by the taxpayers they had limited risk so strike the last one), incompetent employees, their desire to keep all of the marbles, etc.

  63. dilbert69 says:

    I thought this was universal. If the check is below $100, just task the risk of the person cashing it. If it’s more, close your account and move to a totally different bank; otherwise, they might “help” you by paying the old check against the new account.

  64. physics2010 says:

    A check? WTF is a check?

  65. ahleeeshah says:

    I’ve only done a stop payment for one check through BofA, but I didn’t have to pay $30 to do it.

  66. maztec says:

    UCC 4-403 makes an oral stop payment request valid for 14 days, if there is reasonable notice; and a written stop payment request valid for 180 days, renewable by 180 day periods, if there is reasonable notice.

    UCC 4-404 extinguishes the banks warranty of honor 6 months after the date on the check. That means the bank may honor (deposit) the check, but may also refuse the check without breaching its warranty.

    If your bank honors checks more than 6 months old, you need to renew your stop order. If it does not, you are good, but should still renew the order.

    Just to confuse matters more, under UCC 4, post-dating a check has no effect. As soon as you sign the check it can be tendered to a bank which is then obligated to honor it. The only way to require a bank to reject a post-dated check is to give it notice under the same rules governing stop requests, informing the bank when the check should be honored. Otherwise, the bank can deposit it at any time they feel like. It is amazing how many post-date checks to third parties, only to have them deposited the same day.

    Really, if you want to know anything about checks, you should read UCC Article 4.
    It applies to all states except New York and South Carolina.

  67. PinUp says:

    Um, a negotiable instrument (translate:check) is only good for six months after it’s dated, so a continuing charge seems rather scammy….. (unless things have drastically changed in the last few years since I worked for a bank)