Guide 2 Identity Theft - How To Protect Yourself

   
Guide 2 Identity Theft

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Guide 2 Identity Theft   >   Stolen Checks

What to Do If Your Checks Go Missing


Checks have become less common in recent times, for a variety of reasons, including:-
  • Most people find credit and debit cards more convenient

  • Credit card companies often offer incentives to use them, in the form of cash-backs, points systems, and other bonus schemes that checks do not offer

  • Electronic funds transfers, often automated, are usually an easier way to pay bills

  • Checks are manually processed, which may incur bank handling charges

  • In some places, checks in some places incur fees and taxes (e.g. stamp duty) which may not apply to more modern payment methods

  • Checks are less secure than other forms of payment and therefore may be less readily accepted

  • Checks can take some time to clear
However, checks are still widely used, and many people still have a check book. For example, rather than give your child cash to take to school to pay for a day trip, it can be safer to send them off with a crossed check that is of no use to anyone other than the intended user.

An identity thief in possession of your check book, and some form of proof of identity in your name, which he has also stolen from you, is all set to go on a shopping spree at your expense. With practice, the thief will probably be able to forge a sufficiently passable signature to get by at a busy shop, especially if it just has to match the faded one on your stolen credit card. Provided the thief acts in a credible manner, and chooses businesses that still accept checks, your bank account will quickly be cleaned out.

Even if your credit card has been cancelled, it can still be useful to a check-thief to use as proof of identity. This is because the card is never actually used. Retailers who accept cards as proof of identity often just note down the card number as a way to follow-up if there is a problem, and compare the signature. Of course, a card bearing your photograph would be much more difficult for thieves to use in this way.

It is not uncommon for a thief to leave you with your check book but to just tear out a few checks from further down the book. This can happen if the thief only gets possession of your check book briefly. You are unlikely to notice. If the thief takes other things at the same time and you detect the theft, you will probably put your effort into canceling missing credit cards, or dealing with whatever else has been stolen, but you may ignore doing anything about your checks because your check book is still there. The thief may then wait a month or so before using these stolen checks, until after the heat has died down. You may not even immediately notice several spaced out transactions for modest amounts coming out of your bank account.

If you believe you have lost your check book, or any individual blank checks, you should report this immediately to your bank, and put a stop on these checks. It is worth it, even if there is be a bank fee to do so. Of course, you can avoid the problem in the first place by ensuring that your checks are kept secure at all times.

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