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They're liable because they've taken a payment to stop payment. They can't simply take money from you for a service and fail to deliver. And because they're doing this to make a profit, they're not just liable for the $10-20 they took in payment. Instead they're liable for any damages you incurred.

The bank is given time to notify all of its branches that the stop payment has been issued. If the payment is accepted during that time, the bank has no liability. If any detail of the stop payment is incorrect, the bank has no liability. After six months the stop payment expires. "Stale dating" often is not until after 1 year.

Those who steal checks/checkbooks know that stop payments expire and frequently wait the six months to present a check.

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