Has Anyone Stole and Then Forged One of Your Checks?

My bank’s fraud department left me a message while speaking at a work-related Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD) event about a year ago. I didn’t answer their call because I didn’t recognize the number, plus my talk was starting in a few minutes.

Checked on My Bank Account

Once my talk was through, I listened to the message and found out I needed to call my bank before 4:00 PM because it was urgent. Either I missed the part that it was from the fraud department, or they didn’t mention it, but I figured I better look into it.

I logged into my bank’s website and noticed a large check had been cashed for an amount I knew I hadn’t written. While grabbing my checkbook to see what the check was supposed to be, I viewed the digital image of the check on the bank’s website.

My checkbook said it was a payment for my water bill from March 2021. That was now changed to be to a person for ten times the original amount.

Looking at the check, you could see someone changed the date from March to April by making the three a four. Then put a person’s name where the water company’s name should have been.

You could see the last part of the water company’s name at the end of the line to whom the check was initially made. They also change the written amount in words and numbers.

After repeatedly listening to the bank’s phone number, I needed to call. I wrote it all down—many attempts later, I wrote the phone number down in pieces.

A note to others whenever I leave my phone number that is different from the one I’m using, I say it in three pieces and then repeat it slowly a second time. So people can get it the first or second time listening. In case they weren’t expecting to need to write the number down in the first place.

I then Googled the 800 number and found everything pointing out that it was my bank’s number. I wanted to make sure I wasn’t getting scammed further.

Called My Bank Back

So I called the bank and explained what I had figured out to the person that answered my call. They told me I needed to contact the fraud department, whom I thought was who I was talking to.

The bank person then transferred me to the fraud department. The fraud department then asked me a bunch of questions like the first person did to make sure I was who I was supposed to be.

So I asked them again how much the check-in question was for and the name on it. I felt more comfortable that it was my bank and not scammers since they could tell me what I saw from my online account.

Partway through the process, I decided they asked for too much information over the phone for me to set up a new checking account.

Once I got off the phone with them, I set up an appointment to go to the nearest branch the next day to set up the new checking account because they mentioned they would have to close/put my current one on hold. The bank did this so that no more money could be withdrawn from my existing account.

Headed to My Bank

I worked for a couple of hours the next day before leaving for the Metro near me to head out for my noon appointment at the bank. Once I got to the Metro, I found out the Blue line wasn’t running because the Arlington Cemetery station had been closed for repairs for a few weeks/months.

So that meant I had to take the long way on the Yellow Line to the L’Enfant Plaza Metro station and then catch an Orange or Silver line train to get to the Ballston – MU Metro station.

Of course, I missed the next connecting train by approximately a minute.

The DC Metro was not running as many trains due to some single-tracking that was going on.

The next train was supposed to be there in about 13 minutes. It was closer to 18 minutes.

So I finally got to the Ballston Metro station at noon when I was supposed to be at the bank then, which was still five or six blocks away. I attempted to call the person I was supposed to be meeting to open my new account while walking there, and they were away from their desk.

Finally, I got a hold of them and told them I was still on my way walking over because of Metro issues. I managed to only be about six or seven minutes late for my appointment.

Explained My Issues

Once there, I explained what had happened and that I needed to set up a new checking account. The person helping me told me that they could keep my account open. So any checks that were getting deposited, like my Federal Government and State government tax returns that I had sent out a few days before, using the current checking account number, or my paycheck that was due to be deposited in a few days.

So we worked through all the paperwork to set up a new checking account and a few other things. Then the bank person had to contact the fraud group to have them transfer all the money in my old checking account to my new account.

First, the person that set up my new account had to give the fraud department person a bunch of information to prove they worked for the bank. Then I had to answer a bunch of questions to which I had to move closer to the speakerphone to answer. Loads of fun to do during a pandemic and having to pull down my mask so the other person on the phone could hear me.

Once that was done, we had to see a teller and make the final transfer possible because both of my accounts were now open. Once that was completed, the bank person I was working with kept my old account open to receive the two tax refunds and a possible paycheck but closed it so that no money could go out in case the person who forged the check couldn’t do anything else.

The bank person had to call the fraud department back and tell them we had transferred the funds after, of course, both of us had to answer all the questions again over the phone.

Ordered New Checks

I had to order new checks, and luckily, I did not have any bills that needed to be paid for another few weeks, so I had time to get the new ones.

Once I was done, I thanked the person for their work since it took at least an hour, if not more, to complete the entire process if my memory served me correctly.

Grabbed Lunch To Go

I then headed to the Ballston Mall to stop at Hot Lola’s to get a spicy chicken sandwich for a late lunch once I made it home. They use a blend that is part Nashville Hot Chicken with Sichuan peppercorns. So the sandwiches have some spice, some heat, and flavor along with a bit of tingling on your tongue.

Long Train Ride Home

Again, it took about an hour and a half to get home with all the DC Metro train system issues.

The hot chicken sandwich was still warm and crispy even after all that time on the trains.

Talked with Neighbors

Later talking with neighbors about my issue, I found out they had heard of others losing mail at the nearby Post Office if you put your mail in the big dropoff box outside in the Post Office parking lot.

Since then, I have made an effort after walking to the Post Office to make sure and put any outgoing mail in the mailboxes inside the building.

Good Luck Everyene

So hopefully, this never happens to you if it has sorry to hear that.

No More Car

In the fall of 2019, I had car issues that I decided not to spend the money to fix. For an 18-year-old Honda Civic with 170,000+ miles on it, I had paid between $700 and $1,200 per year to fix things that had broken/needed repair.

So I used the metro (commuter train), bus, and walking to get around the DC area. Being that I lived in a large metropolitan city, I figured it should be fairly easy to do.

Going Places Using Public Transportation

I even managed to attend NOVA Code and Coffee events, which is between 12 and 15 miles from my house without a car. It meant walking to the metro (commuter train). Then take a blue line train. Transfer to an orange line train at Roslyn until the second last stop. There I could either walk the mile to the venue or if I timed it right, grab a bus that got me within two or three blocks.

The nice thing about this event was there were many great places to grab lunch afterward with other attendees.

Another bonus of the event was an H Mart (Korean/international) grocery store was near there. So I could grab a few things that would fit in my backpack with my laptop, charger, etc., that I couldn’t get at my local stores.

Before the pandemic, on Friday nights, I would make sure to bring my laptop to work. So I could go directly to one coffee shop and catch up on e-mail and listen to live music. Afterward, I would go to another coffee shop that stayed open later to do more if I felt like it.

Every other Saturday, I would walk a half-mile to the Alexandria Code and Coffee event to hang out and work on my side project. Then take the bus a few blocks away from M. E. Swing Coffee Roasters to do some more work or e-mail/newsletters, etc. Between 2:30 PM and 2:40 PM, I would head out to take the 10B bus from Del Ray to Arlington to grab a late lunch.

Then walk a mile to Norhtsdie Social for a bit more work. Then down to Three Whistles for live music and a bit more work. There typically was a bunch of Twitter reading and other distractions during all this.

Finally, close to midnight, I would catch two trains to get home. So spent the whole day either walking, taking a bus or train on days like this.

Getting Around Before the Pandemic

So before the pandemic, I managed to get around by foot, bus, or metro.

Okay, there were two weekends where I rented a car. About three months apart to do some large grocery shopping. At places like Wegmans, Sam’s Club, etc., to stock up on more bulk items like toilet paper, Kleenex, paper towels, etc.

My sister made fun of me for having a 30 part of toilet paper and some other rolls at one point when she visited. I felt good when I still have close to 25 rolls left when everyone else was attempting to buy some at the pandemic’s start.

Plus, I would go on the two Sundays to a buddy’s place who lived in the country and raised pigs on the side. To get out to the city for a bit and get some fresh air.

Finally, Got Rid of the Car

After not being able to use the car, I sold my car to a friend’s friend in late August. Because they thought it would be cheaper to fix mine than theirs. Now I need to find out if that was the case.

I checked. It seems it cost more than I would have wanted to spend, and that didn’t include my friend’s labor. I probably would have bought an eight or ten-year-old car for about the same price.

In Conclusion

Getting to go out in the country is the one thing I miss without having a car.

Since the pandemic, I have not been more than I think a mile and a half or a little more from my house.

I don’t want to get on the metro, bus, etc., at this point.