Check Fraud

Recently I was the victim of check washing fraud.  A large personal check that I mailed at a US post office was intercepted and the payee name was changed.  I discovered the alteration by accident.  The perpetrators didn’t change the amount of the check, so I didn’t suspect anything when the check cleared my bank. It was only when the intended payee didn’t acknowledge the receipt of my check, that I began to investigate and noticed the fraud.

Doing some research on the internet about what actions I should take to protect myself and recover my money didn’t yield any inspiring results.  So now that I’ve survived the ordeal and recovered my money, I thought I would write this post to help other who find themselves in a similar situation.

Step 1 – Breath

Unfortunately, your experience is not unique.  Take a deep breath.  You will get through this and most likely get your money back quickly.

Step 2 – Report the fraud to your bank

As soon as you discover the fraud, report it to your bank’s fraud department.  They will require you to file an affidavit about the fraud.

Step 3 – Close your bank account and open a new one

Close the bank account that the fraud was on and open a new one.  Once the fraudsters have your bank account information; they will try and use it again.  This is a pain, but it is the best strategy.  The bank will set your account to ‘Debit only’ so deposit transactions will post, but not checks or other credits.  If you have a list of scheduled payment that need to be allowed, the bank will take your list and note it on your old account.

Step 4 – File a report with the police

Contact your local Police department and file a police report about the fraud.

Step 5 – Freeze your credit files

Contact each of the three credit reporting agencies and freeze your credit files.  Consider also putting a “Fraud Alert” on your credit file.

Experian

Transunion

Equifax

Step 6 – Report the fraud to the US Postal Inspectors (optional)

I your fraud involved the US Mail then report it to the USPIS.

If you find yourself a victim of check fraud, then I hope this helps.  It took a week from the time a reported the fraud to my bank before the money was returned to my account.