What happenedHere's what happened: I was updating my child care spreadsheet to reflect my latest payment. I signed in to my online banking and saw that two checks had cleared. One was the check for Benjamin's day care. The other, directly above it, was not something I recognized. I clicked on it to see what it was for and got quite a surprise! First of all, that's not what our checks look like! Secondly, even though it had my husband's name and our account number, the address in the top left was not our address. I immediately called my bank to see what was going on.
I explained to the woman on the phone about what I was seeing and she said it looked like we had some fraudulent activity on our account. She immediately froze the account and gave me two options: I could set up another account over the phone or I could go to my local branch and take care of it. I decided that Ken and I both needed to be present for this process, so I called him and had him meet me at the bank.
The solutionWe met with a lovely woman by the name of Lynn who walked us through all the steps required to sort out this mess. I was worried because it was so close to the end of the month and my paycheck and Ken's were already in processing, as well as all the automatic payments that get processed at the beginning of the month (mortgage, water, electricity, etc.)
Lynn noted our old account with messages about the fraud and opened a new account for us right there. In this case, the swindler did not seem to have access to any of our other accounts, so she was able to transfer our debit cards to the new account. That meant I wasn't without money while I waited for new checks and a new card to show up. That was quite a relief!
She also performed some internal banking magic (not the technical term) so that our paychecks would be routed to the new account and our debits would come out from the new account. I still have to go through and manually contact all of those companies to update them with our new information, but at least those immediate payments still went through.
Don't let #BankFraud happen to you! http://ctt.ec/gmU58+ via @MamaRabia
My thoughtsContacting all of the entities that have legitimate access to our checking account was a hassle. Thankfully Lynn was able to make a list of all our payments for me, so I could be sure to adjust our account information with all of them. Some places had a form I could download, fill out, and mail or email. Some places I could log in to our online account and adjust myself. One place has to send me a form that I fill out and send back, but this one seems to be the only company not caught up with the digital age.
This has been a major hassle and frankly, quite annoying, but nothing other than time has been lost. The bank credited us the $29.95 and was very helpful in taking care of all the issues that came about. After I calmed down from the anger about the incident, I wrote Lynn a nice thank you email and asked her for some tips to help everyone avoid bank fraud in the future.
How To Avoid Bank Fraud
- Be vigilant and keep a close eye on your money-thieves like to use small amounts that are easily missed at first glance.
- Balance your checkbook, either with a pen and check register or using an online app.
- When using money online look for the padlock symbol in the address field as well as an address starting with https.
- Do not use unsecured networks to stream your personal info
- Checks will always have some risk associated with them because they must be printed with routing and account numbers. If you are concerned about the integrity of your check's recipient, use a money order or cashier's check. The small fee is worth your peace of mind.
- Do not mail checks from your home mailbox. Put them in a secure post office mailbox or drop them off at the post office directly.
Further InformationYou can also access a free program that my bank (BB&T) has put together for educating people on the financial foundations. You do not have to bank with BB&T to take advantage of this information and it is completely free!
- Visit bbt.com/knowledge
- Click on "Register"
- Create a username and password. This information is only used to keep track of which modules you have completed. You can make up something anonymous if you want.
- No commitments or obligations! Just free information!!