If someone cashes a check that belongs to you, you may have a difficult time making your monthly payments and you may also need to worry about identity theft. You will need to take steps as soon as you realize that someone has cashed a check that belonged to you because banks do limit the amount of time you have to correct the mistake so you can get the money back.
Check Made Out to You
If someone cashes a check that was made out to you, you will need to contact the person who issued you the check. The company will need to file the complaint with the bank. They may issue you a new check while the problem is resolved, depending on the circumstances, but you may have to wait until the bank resolves the matter to receive a new check. You may need to file a police report to prove that you did not cash the check, although the company that issued the check may do it.
Check Belonging to You
If someone cashed a check that was drawn on your bank account, you will need to contact your bank immediately. The bank will place a freeze on your account until you can go to a branch, file a report and close your current checking account. You will need to provide a list of the most recent transactions you have authorized; the bank will allow these transactions to go through. You will need to change your account information with any direct deposit or automatic withdrawals made to your account. You should file a police report reporting that your checks were stolen to protect yourself if you need to deal with identity theft in the future.
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Protecting Your Identity
If you have a check stolen, you need to monitor your credit report to make sure that your identity is not stolen. You should pull your reports every few months and make sure that no accounts have been opened that you did not authorize. If they have been, you need to contact the bank that opened the account and tell them the opening of the account was not authorized by you. You can get one free copy of your credit report from each credit bureau once per year by visiting annualcreditreport.com.
Preventing This from Happening Again
You can protect yourself from having checks stolen by switching to automatic payment or direct deposit for your bills or your paycheck. Additionally, you should store your checks in a safe place that a thief would not normally look. If you carry your checkbook with you, do not leave it in the car while you are running errands. Drop your mail in a mailbox that locks to prevent thieves from stealing your mail and using your checks to access your account.