There may come a time when you realize that your checkbook or debit card has been stolen or lost. It is important to act quickly as soon as you realize it so that you are not held responsible for the money the thief decides to spend on your account.
Here are five things you should do once you find out that your checkbook or wallet has been stolen, according to: www.thebalance.com:
- Call your bank and block your account:
You need to call your bank and block your account. Usually a gel will only last 24 hours. This will temporarily stop all checks and debit transactions. As a result, you may have items that you have already paid for (like your rent) that are not cleared by the bank due to the freeze. It’s different from putting a stop payment on a single check. You need to take the following steps in order to allow the items that need to be paid to go through.
- Collect information about your transactions:
Gather information such as old statements, your checkbook or a computer printout of your recent transactions and recent receipts to take with you to the bank. These articles will help you and your customer service representative decide which articles to allow for deletion. The sooner you collect these items, the sooner you can choose which ones are safe with your bank. This is an important step because it can reduce the time you will need to spend in the bank.
- Close your checking account:
Go to your bank to close your account and open a new one. Be prepared to be in the bank for a while. The customer service representative will sit down with you and make a list of the items you will allow to erase your old account. This will include the items you gathered above. They will then open a new account for you. This is the best way to prevent money from being stolen from you.
This is only necessary if you are sure that the checkbook has been stolen. If you have just lost the checkbook and closed the account as a preventive measure, you can skip this step. This report is necessary if you find yourself facing identity theft. Filing the report shouldn’t take too long, but you can use the same report if your credit cards were also taken.
- Process direct debits and deposits:
You should make a list of all drafts or automatic deposits that involve this account. You will need to contact each of these people and make the necessary changes so that they have your new account number. You need to do this as quickly as possible because in many places it takes at least two weeks to complete the paperwork.
Also make sure to transfer your direct deposit. You can also have direct deposit, and your customer service representative can help you decide if you should close and reopen your savings account as well.
You will need to follow similar steps if your credit cards are stolen. It is important to contact each bank as quickly as possible.
The sooner you report the lost or stolen checkbook, the better. The bank usually waives the charge if you report the theft within 24 hours. Plus, the sooner you report it and freeze your account, the less transactions and paperwork you’ll have to deal with.
Transactions can take place nationwide while you still have your card with you. Many banks will allow you to check pending transactions and you may be able to stop the transaction before it happens.
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