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Thursday, July 22, 2010

Unsolicited convenience checks in the mail as bad as unsolicited credit cards

Unsolicited convenience checks from your bank or credit card company that is tied directly to your account can cause as much trouble as unsolicited credit card offers. Maybe even more since they carry your checking or credit card account number, as well as your name and address. Although credit cards have protection, bank cards and debit cards don’t, unless your bank is willing to work with you.

The credit card mailings no one asks for have had a recent resurgence in a somewhat improved economy; I received one that was pre-approved just last week. The worst part was that the “pre-approved” was headlined on the outer envelope, a move that sends the bad guys into ecstasy. A few quick changes by the crooks results in a new account in your name that you will never discover until it is too late.

Yes, almost all the charges are covered by federal law, but the effects on your credit rating could be forever.

The checks, on the other hand, can provide instant gratification to the thief, if he or she can just convince the person making the transaction that they are you. And with instant IDs that are readily available today, that isn’t so hard to do. This is the reason I monitor my bank account daily online to insure that this doesn’t happen. The quicker you catch the stolen check and report it to the bank, the more likely you are to receive cooperation.

Jay Foley, Executive Director and co-founder of Identity Theft Resource Center related another scenario to me of how the ID thieves make use of these checks. Once stolen, they duplicate them on their computer using your account number, and then print them in quantity for distribution to the crooks. The result could be a quick draining of your bank account.

Foley says there is little or nothing you can do about unsolicited convenience checks. The banking community claims in a study done a few years ago that the average loss to the consumer is one-half of one percent. Foley doesn’t agree and adds that the revenue produced by these checks is in the billions of dollars. He says you can plead with them not to send, but their bottom line will probably prevail.

For all of your questions on identity theft, go to: Identity Theft Resource Center (ITRC)

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