By Guest Blogger Shirley Krohn, Senior Assemblymember at California Senior Legislature
This Can’t Happen to Me!…..Really?
As an aging advocate, and a presenter of information to seniors on how they can protect themselves from financial fraud, I was not prepared for having this happen to me. But it did. Someone got access to my checking account and routing number and them posted on blank checks that they then inserted their own name, address, etc. Two people and ten bogus checks later, a little over $3000 disappeared from my account.
I’m used to checking my account online several times a week. When I checked and found that my account was seriously low, I accessed my daily transactions and found several checks that I did not write accounted for and cashed. I immediately called my credit union fraud department and reported this. I also contacted the police to report and was told I needed to make contact with all the check cashers and let them know these are fraudulent charges. I was again shocked, but learned later that the amount identified is way below their reporting responsibility. My credit union called the postal inspector who jumped on this right away. I had all money returned and deposited within 3 days after reporting. The following week, I received a call from another credit union letting me know that my credit card had been compromised. Another Shock! We straightened this out right away.
So, what lessons did I learn? First, I recommend that bank accounts be monitored very closely and very often to see if there are any suspicious transactions. Second, if something suspicious does appear, contact the Fraud section of your financial institution. Also, working with your institution, change account number, order new checks/credit cards, and most importantly shred any blank checks or other information containing your personal information. I have copies of all the bogus checks that I will use in the future to share with seniors so that they can see a real story of financial exploitation, rather than making a presentation that does not have this “personal” experience. While $3000 may not seem like a lot of money, for many seniors, a loss like this could be devastating! So, consumer beware!!!