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Victim of check fraud found that was only the beginning of the problem

Friday, August 23, 2013

Take a good hard look at your bank records. Your checking account may be the new target of scammers, but missing money is only the beginning of the problems.

The first clue a Houston man had that something was wrong was unexplained withdrawals, but fixing that caused another problem -- harassing calls from debt collectors.

Bob Gerrits keeps a close eye on his bank records.

"I noticed what they call these ACHs," he said. "I never even knew what it meant."

Bob learned an "ACH" is an electronic funds transfer that takes place when a check is used as payment at a store. There were six totaling hundreds of dollars that Gerrits never authorized.

He said, "The bank was really good. They only took about a week to resolve the issue and they redeposit the monies into my account."

Gerrits says the after the bank stopped the payment on the bogus checks, he got another surprise from bill collectors.

"And then the nightmare begins," Gerrits said.

Gerrits had to get case numbers from police departments in the five towns where the checks were passed and get affidavits notarized to stop the bill collectors, but he got a collections letter a few days ago anyway.

"They intend to collect this bill," he said.

while Gerrits tries to get this fixed, the Harris County District Attorney's Office says it's fairly easy for crooks to use a printer and check stock to make realistic-looking checks at home using stolen bank account information.

Assistant DA Lynne Parsons said, "If you make a mistake in writing a check, and many times we crumple it up, don't discard it in an public place. Bring it home and shred it."

Gerrits is not sure how his information was stolen, but he caught the crime by looking at his bank statements on line daily. That's something the DA's offices says we all should do.

Find Jeff on Facebook at ABC13JeffEhling or on Twitter at @jeffehlingabc13

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