Check Fraud - Forged Signatures, Indorsements, and Alterations

Published: 05th January 2010
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When it comes to identity theft, credit card numbers and bank account information stolen through electronic means is becoming more popular than the traditional check fraud schemes. It seems that there is a new press release every day indicating a corporation has had customers' financial information stolen. Check forgeries and alterations, however, are still a problem in the banking world and an issue that consumers should be aware of.

Especially in difficult economic times, the loss or theft and cashing of a single check can cause enormous financial difficulties for a family. Even if the money is eventually recredited back to the banking customers, the time period in which it takes to file a dispute can ensure that the consumers fall behind on other bills or monthly obligations. This is why homeowners facing foreclosure should be aware of the different types of check fraud, in case they become a victim.

The first type is when a thief forgers a consumer's signature on a check and then cashes is. In these cases, it is the bank that will be forced to take the loss. The general theory is that, because the bank making the payment has the customer's signature on file on a signature card, pointing out a forgery should not be difficult. Of course, in practice banks never scrutinize signatures.

A forged signature is considered ineffective and can not bind the banking customer. Banks are allowed to withdraw funds from a consumer's account only if the check is properly payable, and a check with a forged signature does not count as properly payable. And the bank is in the position of being able to examine the consumer's signature card to be able to spot potential forgeries.

Thieves that forge indorsements of checks are also a problem in the banking industry. This may happen in cases where the check is lost or stolen after the customer has signed it. As with a forged signature, however, a check with a forged indorsement is not properly payable. If the bank debits the checking account, it should later be recredited for the amount of the check.

A final type of check fraud is when a check is altered after it has been written. The most frequent alternation, not surprisingly, is when the amount is changed. For example, $5.00 becomes $500, and "five dollars" is changed to "five hundred dollars" written on the check. In cases where the alternation is made fraudulently, the consumers may have no obligation at all. However, in other cases, the banking customer may be debited for the original intended amount of the check. Of course, this makes it worthwhile for wrongdoers to alter checks, in the hopes of getting away with the larger amount.

Forged signatures, forged indorsements, and alterations of checks are the three prominent types of check fraud that consumers should be aware of. If there is any suspicion that any of these actions have occurred, the first action should be to begin disputing the account debits with the bank. Many of these issues can be resolved by working with the bank, but there are also strict statutes of limitations in which to begin the process.
Nick publishes information for the My Personal Bankruptcy Lawyer website, which aims to teach borrowers how filing for bankruptcy really works. The site looks at the various types of bankruptcy, how to prevent filing, and the best resources debtors can utilize if it becomes unavoidable. Visit the site today to find out more about financial hardships, foreclosure, bankruptcy, and more:

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