QUESTION: Recently I became aware of scams involving misuse of personal checks. Do you have any suggestions on how to avoid becoming a victim of this crime?
ANSWER: Scams involving misuse of personal checks and bank account information have become “big business” with annual losses in the billions.
The most effective step consumers can take to guard against fraud is to be aware. To help avoid being victimized checks should be safely stored and when appropriate properly destroyed.
Proper handling begins with ordering of checks. When your order is received promptly review the checks to ensure they are correctly printed and all the checks were received. Your blank checks should then be stored in a safe place preferably in a locked area.
If you find an error on your checks, an order for checks is not received or your checks have been lost or stolen report the problem to your financial institution immediately.
To properly destroy old checks, voided checks or unused deposit slips you should shred or tear them into small pieces. Account statements should also be destroyed in this manner. Criminals search through trash to gain account numbers from old checks, credit card receipts and monthly statements.
Don’t provide telephone or door-to-door solicitors with your checking account information until you have checked out the company they represent. There is no reason to provide this information unless you are authorizing a withdrawal from your account.
Review your account statements as soon as they are received. It will help to discover any fraudulent activity that may have occurred. Notify your bank promptly of any discrepancies.
Never put bill payments in your mail box for pick up by your mail carrier. The minute you put up the red flag for pick up you not only announce to the mail carrier but to anyone else in the neighborhood that there is mail to be picked up.
Outgoing mail should always be taken to the post office or placed in the big blue boxes provided by the post office. When using the blue boxes check to determine that a mail pick up will be made after you make your deposit and before end of day. You do not want to leave mail uncollected overnight.
TODAY – October 21 – 1:30 pm – Seminar – Medicare 2016 – at Westlake Village Civic Center, 31200 E. Oak Crest Drive in Westlake Village.
MONDAY – October 26 – 4:00 to 5:30 or 6:00 to 7:30 pm – Presentation – Conejo Valley Village to Village Progress Update – at Thousand Oaks Library Community Room, 1401 E. Janss Road. No reservations needed.
TUESDAY – October 27 – 5:30 to 7:00 pm – The Empowered Caregiver Series – “Housing Options” at Senior Concerns Day Care Center, 401 Hodencamp Road in Thousand Oaks. For reservations call (805) 497-0189.
WEDNESDAY – November 4 – 10:00 am to 4:00 pm – MEMORY SCREENING DAY – at Senior Helpers of Westlake Village, 31255 Cedar Valley Drive, Westlake Village. For reservations, a must, call (805) 497-8370,
MONDAY – November 9 – 5:30 to 7:00 pm – The Empowered Caregiver Series – “Social Security – Think It Doesn’t Matter, Think Again” at Senior Concerns Day Care Center, 401 Hodencamp Road in Thousand Oaks. For reservations call (805) 497-0189.
MEDICARE ONE-STOP-SHOPS – assistance and counseling with making changes in your health care coverage for 2016.
WEDNESDAY October 21 and THURSDAY October 22 – 9:00 am to 3:00 pm at the Area Agency on Aging Offices, 646 County Square Drive in Ventura.
FRIDAY – October 23 – 10:00 am to 2:00 pm at Santa Paula Senior Center, 530 W. Main Street in Santa Paula.
FRIDAY – October 23 – 1:00 to 3:00 pm at Fillmore Senior Center, 330 Central Avenue in Fillmore.
MONDAY – October 26 – 9:00 am to 3:00 pm at Goebel Active Adult Center, 1385 E. Janss Road in Thousand Oaks.
TUESDAY – October 27 – 10:00 am to 1:00 pm at Simi Valley Senior Center, 3900 Avenida Simi in Simi Valley.