Thursday, September 12, 2013

Research Borne From Necessity

This is a copy of the back of a check I should have received, but didn't. This is a copy of the back of a check made out to me, but intercepted and deposited into a stranger's account without being endorsed. This is a copy of the back of a check that this person's bank simply credited, even though the name on the check differed from the name of the account holder.

This has been my research project for much of this week. I wish I could say it has been for a book in progress. Unfortunately, it's just life.

This is what I've discovered:

1. This sort of thing happens all the time.

Really. ATM deposits are rarely scrutinized. I guess this person (can I refer to him/her as 'dipshit'? Well, it's my blog, so I guess I can. . . maybe 'DS' for short. This is a family blog, after all.) just figured no one would notice. It's a decent amount of money as far as I'm concerned, but not so much you could run away with it, or pay off your mortgage, or even buy a really good car. (I mean, really, if you're going to practice fraud, go big or go home. I'm thinking get enough money to buy an island.)
2. It's (fortunately) just theft and not identity theft, because in most cases, the DS will just deposit the money in their own account and not open up a new account with your name.

3. If you have any concern that someone is using your name to open up bank accounts/credit cards, etc, it's a good idea to put a potential fraud notice on your financial life and you can do this at  Also, monitor your credit reports.

4. You may feel extraordinarily pissed off, no matter how much (or how little) money it involves. (You stole from me, DS, I hope karma catches up and bites you on the ass. Soon.)

5. Because this check was part of an insurance settlement from our 2010 house fire, we have to deal with not one, but two bureaucracies! (Insurance company and bank.)
Whoo hoo! Fun times! While the insurance company has sustained the monetary loss, they likely have a line item in their budget for fraud, etc. Ditto the bank. And since it's not a six figure amount, they pretty much throw it to their lowest priority bin. Meanwhile, I'm in limbo-land waiting for my money and no one but me seems to be in any big hurry to get it to me.

6. Patience is a virtue. It's not easy finding your way through a bank's phone tree. It took me two hours to get through all the layers of customer service at the bank to get to (saints be praised!) an amazingly helpful woman at the identity theft/fraud division. She's the one who gave me the information on putting the fraud alert on my financial information. As well as the person who told me this happens ALL the time.
All the time.
No wonder there's so much overhead built into the system. It must be millions of dollars every year that get lost in the cracks of fraud and theft.

7. Keep excellent records. I've scanned everything that's part of this case into the computer. If you don't have a scanner, photocopy it all. Keep notes of your phone calls, who you've spoken with, the time of the call and a summary of the conversation. At the very least, you will likely be talking to a host of people over a few weeks and it's easy to confuse details.

And now that I know a little more about fraud, identity theft, and banking than I did a week ago, I hope to be able to weave it into a story some day. 

This post (sorry--a few days late!) was written as part of the FM Writers Merry-Go-Round Blog Tour, where a group of writers take a common monthly theme and write a post in support of that theme. This month's theme was 'Research'.

1 comment:

  1. That's terrible. I hope everything works out, and that DS gets his/her comeuppance and karma does the nasty on DS's head.