NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — When Carla Evans stopped payment on a check for $849, she assumed it could never be cashed.
But three years later, that $849 disappeared without warning from her checking account.
As CBS 2’s Maurice DuBois reported, stop-payment orders generally have expiration dates, allowing once-canceled checks to be cashed.
“We thought this was good forever,” Evans said.
She is not alone in her confusion over canceled checks.
“If you stop the check, the check should be stopped,” one man said.
“There should be no more transactions on that check,” added one woman.
Experts say that banks don’t want the responsibility of having to keep an eye out for a canceled check forever.
“From the bank’s perspective, it’s hard to keep a stop-payment in place permanently,” said CBS News Senior Business Analyst Jill Schlesinger.
Wells Fargo, Bank of America, PNC and Citizens Bank stop payments for six months.
TD Bank and HSBC cancel checks for a year or more.
All banks charge a fee, starting at around $25, to stop a payment, and most charge a renewal fee for the same amount.
“For some people, it may be cheaper for you to close the account,” Schlesinger said.
In Evans’ case, TD Bank sent her a confirmation of her stop-payment, including an “expire date,” but she said she didn’t realize what it was referring to. Eventually, the bank refunded her $849 as a courtesy.
“Whenever you do anything with a bank, you need to read the fine print and understand what you’re getting into,” said Allison Ross of BankRate.com.
Experts warn that scam artists are catching on to the expiration dates and redepositing checks, so it’s important to renew those cancellations immediately.
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