Thursday, November 5, 2009

Fraud Update

Good Grief.  I've never been through fraud before.  I'm sure many of you have not either.  I'll walk you through our adventure so far so you have an idea what to expect should you ever be caught in this problem yourself.

The Beginning

This ordeal all started when I was checking our bank account on Monday.  I check it online daily.  I was specifically looking to see if our mortgage check had cleared.  I noticed that our pending debits was an amount I was not expecting at all.  Imagine my surprise when I found a charge for about $650 listed as pending.  After talking with the bank (which I called IMMEDIATELY), I got a little more information - the company the charge was for plus a contact phone number.  I was assured my account would be monitored so I would not overdraft (we're in the middle of refinancing our home) and we closed the debit card that was stolen (only the number was stolen - we still have our cards) and reissued new ones.

The Chaos

Our bank hasn't entered the new milennium yet.  It's up to me to investigate.  So far, I have contacted the offending company (I know they didn't cause the crime, but I don't know how else to identify them without using their name) and their fraud division.  I have filed a police report.  I have reported the fraud to the bank.  I am working with a detective.  This detective had me file an internet crimes report with the FBI.  The charge is for a shipping company so this crime is not simply local.

What Now?

Since our bank is behind the times, we are stuck when it comes to our account.  The fraudulent charge will cause us to be overdrawn if it processes.  We cannot get important details in the case until it processes.  Since the charge is pending, we cannot access our "overdrawn" checking account.  We're in a holding pattern.  Hopefully I can work with the bank tomorrow to gain access to our money again.  I have been told by friends who work in banks that fraud issues like this are normally handled within a day or two without much legwork by the customer. 

What Should YOU do if this Happens to You?

I hope and pray you are never robbed in this way.  Unfortunately, with increased internet banking and purchasing, this crime is becoming way to common.  Should you find yourself in this situation, take these steps:
  1. Contact your bank immediately.  It is so important to check your account regularly - no less than once per week, daily if possible.  Many banks will refund the money within 48 hours if deemed fraudulent.  
  2. File a police report.  This gives authenticity to your fraud claim plus gets more people in to help catch a criminal.
  3. Keep very detailed records.  Mark down who you talk to and when at what phone number.  Keep track of every conversation.  Hang on to copies of any paperwork.  I kept very detailed records and the police were very thankful when they came to do the report.
  4. Stay on it.  Don't let a day go by without talking to your bank until the issue is resolved.  
  5. Consider signing up for some sort of credit monitoring/repair service - a service that would correct errors after fraud or identity theft.  I am looking into purchasing the service endorsed by Dave Ramsey - Zander Insurance.
Have you been through fraud or theft?  What advice would you give?

1 comment:

Lynnette said...

In Feb, someone hacked into my paypal account and ordered $2000 worth of computer equipment. We have it linked to a checking account that we only use for online purchase, so it only had a few dollars in it. (That's a big recommendation- to have a second checking or savings account for online use that you only put money into when making a purchase.) Of course, there was an overdraft when it tried to clear. And apparently paypal tries three times and there was an overdraft each time. The bank did a great job monitoring our account and clearing the overdrafts each time they posted. Paypal was great, too, getting everything taken care of and clearing the charges from my account. Everything was back to normal within a week. I was so concerned about not being charged the money that I didn't even think of the police and criminal charges. I'm assuming that's something that paypal and our bank would take up, but we were never contacted personally. I'd ask about it if we ever run in to fraudulent activity again.

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