Lost Your Checkbook? You Need to Do This Immediately

Many or all of the products here are from our partners that compensate us. It’s how we make money. But our editorial integrity ensures our experts’ opinions aren’t influenced by compensation. Terms may apply to offers listed on this page. APY = Annual Percentage Yield. APYs are subject to change at any time without notice.

KEY POINTS

  • If you lost your checkbook, call your bank immediately to report the loss and freeze your checking account.
  • Freezing your account prevents checks from going through, so if your checkbook fell into the wrong hands, no one will be able to steal your money.
  • Search for your checkbook, and if you can't find it, the safest option is to close your checking account and open a new one.

A lost checkbook isn't a situation most people encounter often. If you pay for purchases with your debit card, credit cards, or cash, then your checkbook is probably safely at home most of the time.

Since losing a checkbook isn't a common occurrence, you might not be sure exactly how to handle this. But it's not good to wait around, because if someone gets their hands on your checkbook, they could use it to steal money from your bank account. To protect yourself, there's one important step to take right away.

Do this immediately if you lost your checkbook

When you can't find your checkbook, call your bank immediately to report it and have your checking account frozen. This prevents withdrawals and transfers, including checks, ACH transfers, and debit card payments, from going through. Frozen bank accounts can still receive deposits, so it won't be a problem with any direct deposits you have, such as your paycheck.

Hopefully, your checkbook is just misplaced, but it's smart to prepare for the worst-case scenario. Anyone who has your checkbook could use it to forge checks tied to your account. While you can dispute fraudulent checks, that's a hassle you can avoid entirely by freezing your account.

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Since you probably don't know exactly when your checkbook went missing, also review recent transactions in case check fraud has already occurred. If you see transactions you don't recognize, alert your bank and dispute them.

Keep in mind that while your account is frozen, any bills you normally pay with it will be declined. You'll need to update your payment method for anything urgent. Make sure you check for any accounts where you have autopay set up so you can adjust them accordingly.

Once you find your checkbook, contact your bank again to unfreeze your account. You'll then be able to use it for writing checks, paying bills, and making withdrawals again.

What to do if you can't find your checkbook

If you can't find your checkbook, you have a couple of options. The simplest is to put a stop payment on all the lost checks, effectively canceling them, and order a new checkbook. Then, you can unfreeze your account and continue using it.

However, there will still be the possibility that someone has your checkbook. Even though they won't be able to use those checks, they will have your account number and routing number, since those are printed on each check. They could use those numbers to attempt withdrawals and transfers from your account.

The safest option is to close your checking account and open a new one. It will have a new account number, a new debit card, and you'll be able to order a new checkbook. Once you do that, it won't matter who has your old account details and checks. Remember that you'll need to update your payment information for any bills that you paid using your old checking account.

It's always inconvenient when you lose something tied to your financial accounts, but it happens. What's most important is reporting the loss promptly so the bank can take the necessary measures to protect your account. This starts with freezing the checking account, and if you can't find your checkbook, then you can either put stop payments on the checks or get an entirely new account for more security.

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Rating image, 4.50 out of 5 stars.
4.50/5 Circle with letter I in it. Our ratings are based on a 5 star scale. 5 stars equals Best. 4 stars equals Excellent. 3 stars equals Good. 2 stars equals Fair. 1 star equals Poor. We want your money to work harder for you. Which is why our ratings are biased toward offers that deliver versatility while cutting out-of-pocket costs.
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APY: 4.25%

Rate info Circle with letter I in it. 4.25% annual percentage yield as of July 24, 2024

APY: 5.31%

Rate info Circle with letter I in it. 5.31% annual percentage yield (APY) is accurate as of 7/11/2024 and subject to change at the Bank’s discretion. Minimum deposit required to open an account is $500 and a minimum balance of $0.01 is required to earn the advertised APY.

Min. to earn APY: $1

Min. to earn APY: $500 to open, $0.01 for max APY

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