Checking account identity fraud isn’t a crime limited to your checking account. After a thief steals your identity or gains access to your checking account, checks or check card, or check card number and PIN, the thief can empty or overdraw your account, set up and overdraw an account in your name at another bank or purchase goods and services with fake checks bearing your name and contact information. As a result, it is important to know the signs of identify fraud on bank statements.
Check the financial institution name and logo on the statement. You may have received a statement in your name from a bank you don’t use. Many people receive paper statements and don’t open them or open them, set them aside to look at later and miss the fact that the statement isn’t from their bank.
Look at the contact information that appears on your statement. If you don’t receive paper statements, check the name and address for your account daily online. If the name is slightly different -- for example, maiden name or different spelling, or you see unauthorized secondary contact information or a different primary address for the account, someone is likely committing identify fraud on your account.
Crosscheck your statement against your receipts and check or check card register, or money management software, every day. Identity fraud appears as deposits, electronic transfers or withdrawals that don’t match your records. In addition, you may see transactions for merchants you haven’t shopped with.
Compare check numbers on your statement to previously used checks. A criminal may chemically wash and use an old check to withdraw funds, may have generated a dummy check number with your checking account and routing information that has a future number in the existing series or created checks based on a completely different number series.
To help prevent future identity fraud, the Identity Theft Resources Center. Many banks recommend that you remove your driver’s license, Social Security number and full name from your checks and set up hard-to-guess passwords and PINs on your account. In addition, you should put a lock on your mailbox and mail checks in thick or security-printed envelopes.
Always contact your bank immediately if you believe you’ve been the victim of checking account fraud or identity theft as waiting too long to report a crime can result in your financial institution holding you liable for unauthorized transactions. In addition, check out the Federal Trade Commission’s Resolving Specific Identity Theft Problems online resource to determine other actions you should take for your specific issue.