When making a larger purchase, or to instill confidence in a person to whom you owe money, you may use a certified check from a bank. These checks generally are viewed like cash, which makes any recourse from the fraudulent use of these funds more difficult. If your payment is questioned, you can take several steps to help, including tracing the check to see if payment has been made.
Contact the Recipient
The first step in tracking down funds for a lost certified bank check is to contact the recipient, if he is cooperative. Ask the recipient when he received the check and if he has deposited or cashed it yet. If he has, ask for the name of the bank where he deposited or cashed the check. You can contact that bank and verify the information; however, it is confidential information, and the bank may not cooperate without the recipient's permission. If you are tracing a check because of a dispute with the recipient about receipt of the funds, it will be difficult to obtain information this way. Make sure that the person knows you are trying to resolve any issues, and enlist his assistance to help you get it taken care of.
Contact the Issuing Bank
The bank that you had issue the check can assist with the tracing of the check. It should be able to look at its own records to see if the check has been presented for payment. If the check has been presented, it can provide you with a copy of the check, which will include the endorser's signature and possibly the account number that the check was deposited into, if applicable.
While you can request a stop payment on a certified bank check, it may not be possible to execute this request. A certified check is guaranteed funds and is intended to be used the same way as cash. This is to encourage people to accept the check to complete a transaction with confidence. With fraud, the rules and law work differently, and if you believe that you are a victim of fraud, you can ask for the bank's help. The bank may require you to file a police report of the fraud to get its help. With fraud, a bank can seek recourse against the person who received a certified check. The success of this depends on a number of factors, including if the recipient of the funds still has a bank account open at the place where he deposited the check.
Declaration of Loss
If the certified check has not been deposited or cashed within 90 days, you have additional protections. You can file a declaration of loss with the issuing bank. Section 3-312 of the Uniform Commercial Code outlines the requirements for lost certified checks and the bank's responsibilities for these checks. Many banks may ask for an indemnity bond to protect the bank in case the original check is issued for payment, but this is unnecessary with the UCC rules. The declaration of loss must be notarized. If you are not successful with this, an attorney can help you recover the lost funds.
Craig Woodman began writing professionally in 2007. Woodman's articles have been published in "Professional Distributor" magazine and in various online publications. He has written extensively on automotive issues, business, personal finance and recreational vehicles. Woodman is pursuing a Bachelor of Science in finance through online education.