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What to do with a stolen checkbook

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rated:
My checkbook was stolen along with iPod and GPS in my car.
What to do? Thanks in advance for your opinion and experience.
1. Stop payment on those check numbers.
- I don't see how this is helpful. The thief can print as many checks as they want with my account number.
2. Close the account.
- I learned online if you close the account, the bank can still honor checks and you are not protected at all since the account is closed.
- And it is a lot of hassle to cancel the automatic payments associated.
3. Ignore it.
- Will the thief be able to take my money using my checks with a bad signature?

 

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It's not secret. But that's unimportant. What's important is HOW one comes to learn your bank-account info.  People you ... (more)

lenifa (Jul. 17, 2017 @ 5:46p) |

Green just for this.  LOL.

DoctorDeals (Jul. 18, 2017 @ 12:50p) |

Some of us had checks before there were things such as credit cards and electronic payments....

tbuccelli (Jul. 18, 2017 @ 1:26p) |

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rated:
cancel the bank account
Thieves can reprint checks in as fast as it takes a Troll to post on FW

rated:
forbin4040 said:   cancel the bank account
Thieves can reprint checks in as fast as it takes a Troll to post on FW

  What is the risk of not canceling? I don't see why I will be liable for fraudulent checks.

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I had to cancel an account and reopen under a new account number because a thief was altering checks under my account. The bank will still honor checks you've written for a period of time. I don't write a ton of checks, so that wasn't really an issue.

What is a hassle is changing all the bill pay/ACH/direct deposit with that checking account. The bank I use (Wells Fargo) will honor/forward those transactions under the old account. I had about 90 days before they wouldn't process that any longer.

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Call your bank immediately and freeze the account.  Talk to them about your options for continuing to honor specific check numbers, but honestly, you would be better off closing the account entirely and contacting anyone holding an outstanding check in order to arrange a replacement from a different/new account.

It isn't so much that you are liable for any fraudulent checks.  It's that once the money is gone from your account, it is going to be nearly impossible to get it back.  If the thief manages to write a few checks and clean out your account, don't think that your bank is just going to give you the money back.

 

rated:
Close the account, and also file a police report.

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nextAaron said:   2. Close the account.
- I learned online if you close the account, the bank can still honor checks and you are not protected at all since the account is closed.
 

  Where did you learn that? The internet? How can the bank honor checks on an account that is closed and has no money in it? There are cases on Judge Judy all the time where plaintiffs are suing over receiving checks from closed accounts and not being able to get their money.

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atikovi said:   
 There are cases on Judge Judy all the time where plaintiffs are suing over receiving checks from closed accounts and not being able to get their money.

  preserved for austerity

rated:
I still don't understand. Anyone I ever write a check has my name, address and account number.
They can print my checks and use them like the thief with my checkbook.
Why suddenly my risk becomes so high that I need to close my account?

rated:
nextAaron said:   I still don't understand. Anyone I ever write a check has my name, address and account number.
They can print my checks and use them like the thief with my checkbook.
Why suddenly my risk becomes so high that I need to close my account?

 Who are all these people you write checks to that are criminals? 

rated:
What the heck is a checkbook?

rated:
atikovi said:   
nextAaron said:   I still don't understand. Anyone I ever write a check has my name, address and account number.
They can print my checks and use them like the thief with my checkbook.
Why suddenly my risk becomes so high that I need to close my account?

 Who are all these people you write checks to that are criminals? 

To be fair, he could be writing checks to shady types like lawyers, doctors, car mechanics, Nickelback fans, FW forum users, etc.  

rated:
nextAaron said:   
1. Stop payment on those check numbers.
- I don't see how this is helpful. The thief can print as many checks as they want with my account number.


 


The whole "the thief can now print unlimited checks linked to my account because she has the account and routing numbers" is kinda weird.

That information is on every check that every FWF member has ever written. So like 20 checks total. It's not exactly like your checking account number is secret. If printing new checks, for the intent of fraud, was common and easy, we'd see more of our already.

rated:
Most thieves wouldn't put a check like that into their own bank account if they even have an account as it will come back on them, and they can't take it to check cashing places as they don't take personal checks.

rated:
nextAaron said:   My checkbook was stolen along with iPod and GPS in my car.
What to do? Thanks in advance for your opinion and experience.
1. Stop payment on those check numbers.
- I don't see how this is helpful. The thief can print as many checks as they want with my account number.
2. Close the account.
- I learned online if you close the account, the bank can still honor checks and you are not protected at all since the account is closed.
- And it is a lot of hassle to cancel the automatic payments associated.
3. Ignore it.
- Will the thief be able to take my money using my checks with a bad signature?

 

  @nextAaron:  You have received the full spectrum of advice so we should pause and wait for you to tell us what the police said and what your banker said.

rated:
wilesmt said:   

Very true, but "security" in general is sadly detached from rational handling in very many cases. OP probably needs to close the account or the bank is going to give extra hassles in the event that paper checks are what this thief needed to pursue that line of crime.

Also not secret:
Social security number
Home address
Where you met your spouse (city only lol)
Mother's maiden name

But people panic about this stuff and/or financial institutions that should know better promote them as if they have some security value.

rated:
rufflesinc said:   
atikovi said:   
 There are cases on Judge Judy all the time where plaintiffs are suing over receiving checks from closed accounts and not being able to get their money.

  preserved for austerity

  
You mean "posterity?"

rated:
atikovi said:   Most thieves wouldn't put a check like that into their own bank account if they even have an account as it will come back on them, and they can't take it to check cashing places as they don't take personal checks.
  
Where does this belief come from that check cashing places don't take personal checks?

rated:
From the internet.

rated:
nextAaron said:   I still don't understand. Anyone I ever write a check has my name, address and account number.
They can print my checks and use them like the thief with my checkbook.
Why suddenly my risk becomes so high that I need to close my account?

  That's why the majority of check writing people are over 75 years old now or have 500 credit scores and can't get a credit card because they declared bankruptcy 5 times.  
Credit cards (and even debit cards) are superior in several ways.

rated:
Bend3r said:   
nextAaron said:   I still don't understand. Anyone I ever write a check has my name, address and account number.
They can print my checks and use them like the thief with my checkbook.
Why suddenly my risk becomes so high that I need to close my account?

  That's why the majority of check writing people are over 75 years old now or have 500 credit scores and can't get a credit card because they declared bankruptcy 5 times.  
Credit cards (and even debit cards) are superior in several ways.

You must not have kids.  We write checks all the time for sports gear, uniforms, banquets, field trips, etc., and my kids frequently receive checks for babysitting, tutoring, etc.  

rated:
atikovi said:   Most thieves wouldn't put a check like that into their own bank account if they even have an account as it will come back on them, and they can't take it to check cashing places as they don't take personal checks.
  
There are ways like linking the account to a similarly stolen PayPal account (or creating one in the OPs name if they don't have one) but they may be more trouble than they are worth.

I write maybe 3 checks a year and they are all to government entities that can and do legally charge surcharges on card use.  Ironically I just took one from a friend of mine to pay for something, his bank isn't one that uses Zelle...

The real question is why do you carry your checkbook out of your house?  I can't remember the last time I saw ANYONE use one -- debit cards have completely replaced them in daily use.  The reason you notify the bank and close the account is to activate the legal protections and limit of liability.  As someone said it is easier to argue with the bank over "overdrafts" than to try to get them to replace significant amounts of missing funds.     The chances of them using it are slim, most likely they grabbed the check wallet hoping it had a credit card or cash in it -- but they aren't zero.  Especially with chips in cards now it is much harder to steal money without the actual plastic in hand.  Not impossible, but harder and the bank is the one on the line not you.  Alsdo, if you have not already, take your address off your checks -- it isn't necessary anymore as long as you have ID that matches.  

 

rated:
dcwilbur said:   You must not have kids.  We write checks all the time for sports gear, uniforms, banquets, field trips, etc., and my kids frequently receive checks for babysitting, tutoring, etc.

It's true that we'd never write a check aside from kid-related activities. But it's gotten better in the last couple of years. Many have moved to using paypal or venmo. DD takes mostly venmo or cash for mowing and babysitting but now I got her to push to use Zelle since most people have a bank in that network. A lot easier than cash or venmo. Can start the transaction as she gets to the place and it's confirmed before she's done with the work. Just a matter of showing people where this stuff is in their phone apps. She had 2 who had the banking app on their phones and everything ready to go with Zelle but did not even know it was available or where it was in the app.

Anyway, if I were OP, I'd just contact my bank and see what they prefer to do. I'm guessing changing bank account number would be better but it depends on your check-writing needs and whether you have other accounts you can write checks from vs. the whole hassle of redoing all your automated ACH transaction on the original checking account. 

rated:
nextAaron said:   My checkbook was stolen along with iPod and GPS in my car.
What to do? Thanks in advance for your opinion and experience.
1. Stop payment on those check numbers.
- I don't see how this is helpful. The thief can print as many checks as they want with my account number.
2. Close the account.
- I learned online if you close the account, the bank can still honor checks and you are not protected at all since the account is closed.
- And it is a lot of hassle to cancel the automatic payments associated.
3. Ignore it.
- Will the thief be able to take my money using my checks with a bad signature?

 

  Everybody telling to close the account, cancel the checks etc as first steps.....instead what you should immediately do is...withdraw all monies in that account via ATM or ACH or cashiers check or a combination of some/all of these (depending on how much money you have in there)....and then take your own time in close that account by recollecting your thoughts if you have written any checks that haven't yet cleared. Rather than have the thieves steal your monies for good, its better to secure all your monies into your hands (and end up paying some NSF fees to the person whom you did write a check). Prior to honoring a check, Banks really don't check signatures on every single check every single time.

rated:
atikovi said:   From the internet.
  
I can assure you that there are check cashing places that cash personal checks. I dealt with them regularly in a previous job.

rated:
dealgain said:     Everybody telling to close the account, cancel the checks etc as first steps.....instead what you should immediately do is...withdraw all monies in that account via ATM or ACH or cashiers check or a combination of some/all of these (depending on how much money you have in there)....and then take your own time in close that account by recollecting your thoughts if you have written any checks that haven't yet cleared. Rather than have the thieves steal your monies for good, its better to secure all your monies into your hands (and end up paying some NSF fees to the person whom you did write a check). Prior to honoring a check, Banks really don't check signatures on every single check every single time.
 

  
Years ago, that is essentially what my bank did for me.  Granted this was 5-7 years ago and I had a good relationship with the banker.  However, you can do this yourself pretty easily.  Open a fresh checking account and move the monies to it.  Then, do as you said.

 

rated:
wilesmt said:   
That information is on every check that every FWF member has ever written. So like 20 checks total. It's not exactly like your checking account number is secret. If printing new checks, for the intent of fraud, was common and easy, we'd see more of our already.

I'm not going to comment on how common it is but I imagine it is pretty easy. All you need is a printer, paper and ink. Maybe magnetic ink required but not sure. For paper maybe security features are required.

rated:
Powza said:   
wilesmt said:   
That information is on every check that every FWF member has ever written. So like 20 checks total. It's not exactly like your checking account number is secret. If printing new checks, for the intent of fraud, was common and easy, we'd see more of our already.

I'm not going to comment on how common it is but I imagine it is pretty easy. All you need is a printer, paper and ink. Maybe magnetic ink required but not sure. For paper maybe security features are required.

  No security features are necessary to create a "legal" check - you can hand write one on a napkin.  Obviously a bank can reject any checks at their own discretion and you're unlikely to find one that will happily accept a napkin-check. (Unless maybe you're AT the bank, with ID, withdrawing from your own account - in which case the teller will just convert your homemade check to a regular withdrawal.....)  The account agreement with your bank may also place additional stipulations on which types of checks they will accept.

Aside from the "someone prints their own checks with your account number" scenario, someone can do ACH payment/withdrawal with just the account and routing number as well.  It's only up to your bank's internal fraud preventon procedures to attempt to predict and reject fraudulent ach payments.  Check fraud is a big deal and pretty easy to track down in many cases, so the pool of people willing to perpetrate it is fairly tiny.   Sure, someone could just guess your account number (and place a transaction without the account name AND somehow not get caught by your bank's fraud prevention.)  Just like credit cards, it's YOUR responsibility to review transactions on every statement and report any errors.  

However, limiting the number of people and entities that come into contact with your account information reduces the chances of check fraud happening on your account.  

rated:
wilesmt said:   
nextAaron said:   
1. Stop payment on those check numbers.
- I don't see how this is helpful. The thief can print as many checks as they want with my account number.


 


The whole "the thief can now print unlimited checks linked to my account because she has the account and routing numbers" is kinda weird.

That information is on every check that every FWF member has ever written. So like 20 checks total. It's not exactly like your checking account number is secret. If printing new checks, for the intent of fraud, was common and easy, we'd see more of our already.

  It's not secret. But that's unimportant. What's important is HOW one comes to learn your bank-account info.  People you do business with are typically too scared to use your info., since an investigation could lead right to them.  They're known quantities. Also, cops might eventually get a bunch of reports about check fraud happening to people who all used/visited Business X.  That wouldn't work out too well for the thief (even if he were acting as a middle man).

But when a thief/potential thief gets your bank info. RANDOMLY, he doesn't need to worry about the mentioned problems. You don't have any connection to him.  Given that randomness, even normal people are somewhat likely to use (or sell) your checks for personal gain, since risk is MUCH lower than normal.

rated:
That information is on every check that every FWF member has ever written. So like 20 checks total. 
  Green just for this.  LOL.

rated:
DoctorDeals said:   
That information is on every check that every FWF member has ever written. So like 20 checks total. 
  Green just for this.  LOL.

  
Some of us had checks before there were things such as credit cards and electronic payments....

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