I lived in North Carolina for about three years. I do have to say it is not my favorite place on this earth, at least the area I lived in. I love Carolina Beach and even parts of Raleigh and Charlotte. The area I lived in though was not the best. During my three year stay my husband was robbed at knife point, my home was broken into, and I became a victim of check fraud.
I did not find out about the check fraud until after I left North Carolina. The checkbook that had been stolen was my FL bank account book which my husband and I rarely used while living in NC since it was a local FL credit union and not easily accessible to make deposits. Once we moved back to Florida we began using that account again. A couple months after returning, I tried using my debit card and it got declined. I went home and checked my account and there were a couple checks posted that I never wrote! They said my name and the person did a pretty good job forging my signature. I was shocked and scared. How could this happen? What were the next steps?
I called my bank who immediately researched and cancelled the checks. They told me to close that account out and open another one so the account number would be different. I was to contact the authorities as well. I closed the account and tried to contact authorities to file a police report. NC wanted to me physically come in to file a report, it wasn’t something I could of done over the phone. I figured the account was closed and that everything else would be fine.
FAST FORWARD 4 YEARS. My husband is trying to get a job at as an EMT and the company requested his driving record from NC and FL. We go to the NC DMV website and enter his old drivers license number to request it and it says our account has a block on it. What? We owed them no money. Come to find out the person who stole my checks wrote 2 checks to the DMV. Since my husband’s and my name are both on the check, it got put on his drivers record. Now we are still dealing with this. I am waiting to hear back from the DMV. I have tons of proof I can send them. Letters stating residence already established in FL, job, and letters from the bank. I have been going back and forth between the DMV and my bank for the last couple days. I think everything will work out ok, but I am still a bit shaken. All together this criminal wrote over $2,000 in fraudulent checks from my closed account in a span of a year. The most ironic one was legal fees to a lawyer. I am guessing she lives a life of crime and lies.
Here are some tips to prevent check fraud that I now live by:
- Write checks sparingly. This is what I practice now. The only person who gets a check from me is my landlady and I know her personally. I prefer to use cash because of envelope budgeting.
- Treat your checkbook like a valuable. Part of the reason this happened to me is because I used to keep several checkbooks around. One in my car in the glove box, one in my purse, and one in the office. That was way to many to have out. My check fraud happened because the one in the car got stolen. I should of had NO checkbooks out and all of them secured.
- Keep tabs on your account. Keep a good eye on your accounts. Check them often. I use several banks, so some don’t get used often but I still double check the account a few times a month to monitor suspicious activity. Also pull up your credit report once a year from the 3 credit bureaus.
- Keep the information on your checks simple. The only information I have on my checks is my name and address. I think some banks allow you to have your picture on there as well. Adding phone number, license number, and anything else is just giving the criminal more information to capture your identity.
Photo Credit: Flickr CC RikkisRefuge Other Text added