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  • Writer's pictureJonda Beattie

A Cautionary Tale

Way back in January, a friend and I each wrote checks for a project we were working on and put the checks in the mail box. These were not checks to credit cards or banks that would have our account information and although we know not to put checks in our mailboxes, sometimes, when rushed, it seems the easiest thing to do.

My friend got slammed right away. There was a call about why a check hadn’t come. Then there was a notice from her bank that a large transfer of money went to pay a credit card (that she did not have) in another state. Later her financial advisor called her and asked if she were planning to move. Someone had done a change of address for her and now all of her mail (including bank statements and credit card bills) were going to another address out of state. This is just a short story of her hell and it is still ongoing.

It’s June now. I thought that for whatever reason, I had dodged the bullet. When my friend started having her difficulty, I did go to my bank and see if I should change may account. We decided to put in warning checks instead. Every day I got an activity statement from my bank and an alert was put on any money transfer over $125. So, a week ago, when I opened my email, there was an alert. Almost $4000 was transferred to Sun Trust Visa (which I do not have). If I had not made this transfer I was to click “here.” Being skeptical of anything wanting me to click “here” I went directly to my banking account and yes, there was this transfer – pending. I did contact the bank via phone and told them I had not authorized the transfer. I was at my bank when it opened and discovered that pending just meant it hadn’t gone through yet (the transfer was done at 2:00 am) but that it would go. I was assured that I would get the money back but now, of course, I had to change my account. But before I did that, I was to do a thorough virus scan on all my devices, change my passwords, and file a police report. Then I could come back and open a new account. Meanwhile, my account was frozen so I needed to see what outstanding checks had not been cashed and let those people know just to tear them up and I would reissue checks when I could.

Now, I do have a new account. I am still waiting on my new debit card and checks. Both should come soon.

What I have learned:

  1. Never ever ever put checks in your mailbox

  2. Try to write as few checks as possible

  3. 95% of all breaches are due to paper fraud – not electronic

  4. When someone has your check, they do not want to cash it – they just want your router number and your address

  5. The lag time for me probably meant that whoever stole the checks sold my information to someone else

  6. The police file a report but it is not worth their resources to do much else

  7. Even though I will get the money back, I lost a great deal of time and because I did not trust myself, I had the expense of having my tech guy to the virus scans

So be careful – very careful.

Jonda S. Beattie Professional Organizer

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