Having a check go missing in the mail is never a fun experience. For starters, you know that because a check has gone missing you are going to have a delayed payment coming your way – or that you’re going to have to reach out and let somebody else know that their payment is going to be delayed, too. Combine that with the fact that it’s almost impossible to know whether or not your check is simply missing in the mail, lost somewhere in the shuffle and still on its way to its ultimate destination, or if it was outright stolen until it’s too late – until someone tries to cash your check, really – and it’s just a lot of stress and anxiety most folks don’t want to deal with.
Thankfully, though, there are steps and procedures in place you can use to navigate a check getting lost in the mail without a lot of headache, without a lot of hassle, (truth be told) without a lot of extra effort, either. Let’s run through those steps and procedures together right now!
What Do I Do If a Check Is Lost in Mail?
Right out of the gate you’re going to want to make sure that you check – and then recheck – that the check you were expecting is into “hiding” somewhere in your mail already. You’d be surprised at the amount of people that discover previously thought to be missing checks shortly after they report them as missing. The only thing more frustrating than a check going missing is finding a check you thought was lost shortly after you reported it and had that check canceled! To avoid those kinds of situations (and the inevitable delay that they cause across the board) it’s a good idea to just double and then triple check anywhere and everywhere a check might be hiding before you consider it fully and totally missing.
Taking 30 minutes or so just to confirm that your check really is missing will give you a lot of peace of mind to run through the rest of the steps that we highlight below.
Contact the Sender of the Check to Confirm
After confirming that you definitely do not have possession of the check that you believe is missing is a good idea to reach out to the individual or organization that sent you that check to confirm that it was in fact dropped in the mail. There can be an almost unlimited amount of reasons that a check was thought to have been dropped in the post but never actually made it to the mailman, and is sitting on someone’s desk waiting to go out even though everyone is under the impression that it’s already on the way.
By just reaching out and touching base really quickly to confirm that your check was in fact sent out, and that it is (potentially) lost somewhere in transit, you’re able to have a lot more confidence to get the missing check process rocking and rolling, too. Once you get the green light and confirmation that the check was in fact mailed out you know that your options are significantly narrowed:
- You can sit back and wait a couple of days to give your check a little more time to get to its destination or
- You can get the ball rolling right now, reporting the check missing, going through the stop payment process, and then requesting a new check to be re-cut for you
Let’s run through these parts of the process right now!
Give Your Check a Little Time to Arrive
As many of us have learned over the years, the mail isn’t always as consistent or as reliable as we hope it’s going to be – or even as consistent and reliable for us as it has been in the past. Each and every single day the USPS alone is responsible for moving more than 100 million pieces of mail through their infrastructure. That’s a lot of envelopes, a lot of packages, and a lot of parcels for this organization to handle. It’s almost inevitable that something, somewhere, is going to get lost along the line. And while we always hope that we aren’t going to have to deal with a missing package or – in this case – a missing check we may have to face that reality.
At the same time, though, it may just be that the check we were expecting to arrive at a certain point in time simply has been hung up somewhere along its route. Maybe our check isn’t actually missing at all but is instead just a little delayed, and the last thing we would want to do is call ahead, have it canceled, and have a stop payment placed on it just so that another check can be sent out (delaying payment even more so).
For a couple of different reasons it’s not a bad idea to give your check a day or two (and maybe even longer) to arrive. Obviously, you’ll want to double check and make sure that it isn’t being cashed before it arrives – an obvious sign that it was stolen or hijacked somewhere along the line – but an extra 24 hours to 48 hours to see if your check the lands where it was supposed to a little later than expected can eliminate a lot of headache and hassle, too.
After an extra day or two has passed and your check hasn’t shown up where it was expected it’s time to move on to the next step in this guide.
Contact the USPS to See What’s Going On
After giving your check a little bit of extra time to land and still coming up empty you’re going to want to reach out to the USPS and see what’s going on. This is hugely important if the check is being mailed to you via First Class mail through the USPS, as this kind of mail is almost never going to have tracking information attached. The USPS officials may not be able to locate exactly where your check is (or where it is supposed to be) when it doesn’t have tracking information, but they should be able to use their own backend tools – not available to the public – to see where that check may have gone along its travels and where it might have gone missing or been delayed.
If your check was sent with tracking information attached they are going to be able to dig into the details and specifics of where that envelope was last scanned and what might have happened to delay its progress. On top of that, the USPS can also issue an order that lets employees at the last scanned facility to search for the check itself. Employees there will scour the whole facility to see if your check slipped through the cracks somewhere. If they find it, they’ll move it along (usually with priority delivery services that get it to you faster) and let you know that it’s on the way. If not, though, that let you know that to – giving you a better idea that your check really is missing and allowing you to move through the rest of these steps with a lot of confidence and conviction.
Contact Your Bank to Stop the Payment
If it is a check that you have sent out to someone else that was lost in the mail it’s a good idea to contact your bank ASAP and let them know the details of the situation at hand. The overwhelming majority of checks that are sent via First Class mail through the USPS are going to reach their ultimate destination in the United States in about five working days (or less). Outside of that window of time the odds are pretty good that they are significantly delayed, lost, or stolen – and that’s when the bank needs to get involved.
Let your bank know when you sent the check out, how much the check was for, and which number check it was (as well as any other details that they request). They’ll then be able to cancel the check, place a stop payment on it to guarantee that it isn’t cashed in the future, and can also double confirm on their and that the check hasn’t already been cashed and deposited. You should know, however, that most banks and financial institutions that offer this service are going to charge anywhere between $20 and $30. Obviously, if the check that you have sent cost less than $20-$30 it may be a good idea to just “take it for the team” and cut a new check to send out without paying the extra $20-$30 just to stop that payment should someone try to cash it in the future.
Contact the Issuer to Stop Payment on Their End
If you were expecting a check to arrive but it hasn’t within that five day window of time (and then after a couple of extra days as a “buffer”) it’s a good idea to reach out to the person that issued that check to you to let them know what’s going on. They are (obviously) going to have a couple of questions they’ll want answered, but they should be able to check out their end that the check wasn’t cashed and that it is in fact missing or potentially stolen. After that they’ll run through whatever processes they have to put a stop payment on that specific check and to cancel it completely.
Request a New Check to Be Sent
You’re obviously going to want to either send out a new check (if it’s your check that has gone missing) – probably paying extra for priority delivery and tracking information for sure – or you’re going to want to request that a new check is sent out to you. Different companies and organizations may have different procedures in place to handle replacement checks, but the overwhelming majority of these operations are also going to pay for priority delivery to get your payment to you as quickly as possible – and will likely pony up for tracking details, too. At the end of the day, you may not even have to request a new check to be sent to you. It might just happen automatically (though it’s not a bad idea to confirm that this is going to happen while you have them on the phone alerting them to the fact that the check’s gone missing to begin with.
Never Worry About Checks Again with a More Secure Mailbox Solution from US Global Mail
Of course, if you never want to have to worry about checks going missing again and are tired of dealing with the bureaucracy and hoops that the USPS inevitably makes people jump through when mail goes missing (even important mail like a check), you’ll want to take a closer look at the virtual mailbox solutions from US Global Mail.
For starters, as a US Global Mail customer you are going to get a physical mailing address you’ll be able to use to have all of your mail and checks sent to you – a permanent mailing address that “follows” you should you move in the future, providing an extra layer of privacy and security you wouldn’t have had otherwise.
On top of that, though, US Global Mail digitally scans every single piece of mail that arrives at your mailbox the moment that it arrives. This means you’ll get an instant notification about mail that has hit your US Global Mail account, a picture of that mail, and the ability to control exactly what happens to it afterwards.
Imagine never having to worry about driving down to the post office and finding your PO Box empty ever again! And as if those weren’t reason enough to move forward with US Global Mail, you’re also going to be able to enjoy full – and 100% free – automatic check depositing directly into your bank account of choice as a customer of this virtual mailbox service.
This streamlines you getting your hands on your money as quickly as possible all without you having to lift a finger of your own at any point in time.
It doesn’t get much better than that! There are a whole host of other benefits you’ll be able to enjoy as a US Global Mail customer, too. For more information about those benefits or to sign up for your virtual mailbox, check out their website today!