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How to Recover Lost Work Checks

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Losing a paycheck can be a serious hassle. Even though most can be replaced, the time lag between pay day and your replacement check can mean late payments on several bills. Late payments can mean late fees or interest charges, making the next month more stressful. Because the law says your employer has to replace a lost or destroyed paycheck, the question isn't how to get your new check. It's how to do it as quickly as possible.

Know what happened to your check. If you lost it, know where. If you destroyed it in the wash or shredder, know why and how.

As soon as possible after you discover the check is lost, check to see what your employer's policy is on lost checks, and initiate it. Otherwise, make an appointment with somebody at your company, preferably from payroll or human resources, who is authorized to sign checks. If there's nobody at your location with such authority, arrange for a telephone meeting

Look up your company policy for replacing lost checks and gather any required documents. For example, your company may require a signed statement, copy of the destroyed check, if available, or simply a form with your payroll information.

Draft a dated letter formally requesting a replacement check. If company policy requires a specific form or format, use it. Even if company policy doesn't require a letter, include a business letter with the completed form. Note that in the case of lost checks, some companies follow a policy of waiting a set period of time after the check's issuance before they'll issue a replacement.

Come to your appointment with all necessary documents. If the check was destroyed, bring what's left of it. Keep a copy of all documents and the destroyed check for your records. If you lost it, be prepared to prove that you don't have access to the check.

During your appointment, be politely insistent that you need the check as soon as possible. If possible, get the person you meet with to draft you a check during the meeting. This is why you set up an appointment with somebody authorized to write checks. If not, don't leave until you have a promise of a new check by a specific date.

If you have to wait for your check, send a gentle reminder memo two days before the promised date.Be diplomatic. Instead of simply reminding that the check is due, ask what time would be best for you to stop by and pick it up. That way, they'll have to respond to you, which acknowledges that they got the reminder.

If the check is not available on the promised date, have a second meeting with your payroll people. This time, do not leave without a check, even if the payroll department has to go out on a limb for you. Offer to call your state's Department of Labor if necessary.


Remember that even though you might need to be fairly assertive to get a replacement check quickly, especially if it requires that your employer deviate from its normal routine, you're asking it to take quick action to resolve a problem that's likely of your doing. Send a nice, business-like thank you note or card to the person who helped the most, and consider enrolling in your firm's direct deposit program to avoid having to deal with paper checks in the future.


Most states have serious penalties for not paying an employee in a timely manner. This includes replacing lost checks. Although this can give you some power, avoid making threats until your company has missed the promised replacement date. Threats can make the people responsible for processing your check want to work more slowly than necessary.

  • Interview with Teresa Whittaker, Freelance Bookkeeper, Beaverton, OR 2009

Beverlee Brick began writing professionally in 2009, contributing to various websites. Prior to this, she wrote curriculum and business papers in four different languages. As a martial arts and group fitness instructor, she has taught exercise classes in North America, Europe and Asia. She holds master's degrees in French literature and education.

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