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Hot-Check Hell: Report, Write, Call

Posted Oct 15, 2007 11:34 AM CDT
By Martha Neil

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A recent theft of a box of 150 checks gave a Los Angeles Times reporter a firsthand tour of "hot-check hell."

After noticing, early on, that a forged check had cleared his account with a signature that looked nothing like his own, Kim Christensen froze the account. But that was too late to prevent 20 of the bad checks, so far, from being used, as a flurry of collection efforts by bilked merchants soon made clear, he writes in the Los Angeles Times.

A victim has to make a police report to prove his or her innocence, but persuading police to take one—or pursue it—can be a challenge, Christensen says. Once it is in hand—which can take weeks—the next step is to notify merchants.

"The key is to provide solid documentation: a brief cover letter, a police report, a notarized affidavit reflecting the account number and range of stolen checks, and a 'To Whom It May Concern' letter from the bank stating that the account was subjected to fraud," he writes. "I keep copies of everything, always follow up to make sure the bad-check recipients received my paperwork, then call to request a letter saying they've scratched us from their most-wanted lists. So far, I've cleared our names on all 20 or so of the checks that have surfaced."

Since he hasn't heard anything further recently, he's hoping that the worst is over. But, he notes, "another 130 of the little ticking time bombs are still out there."

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