Check Fraud

In general, if an identity thief steals your checks or counterfeits checks from your existing bank account, stop payment, close the account, and ask your bank to notify Chex Systems, Inc., or the check verification service with which it does business. That way, retailers can be notified not to accept these checks.

While no federal law limits your losses, if someone uses your checks with a forged signature, or uses another type of paper transaction such as a demand draft, state laws may protect you. Most states hold the bank responsible for losses from such transactions. At the same time, most states require you to take reasonable care of your account. For example, you may be held responsible for the forgery if you fail to notify the bank in a timely manner that a check was lost or stolen. Contact your state banking or consumer protection agency for more information.

Check Verification Companies

You can contact major check verification companies directly for the following services:
To request that they notify retailers who use their databases not to accept your checks, call:
  • TeleCheck at 800-710-9898 or 800-927-0188
  • Certegy, Inc. (previously Equifax Check Systems) at 800-437-5120
To find out if the identity thief has been passing bad checks in your name, call 800-262-7771.

Magnetic Information Character Recognition (MICR)

If your checks are rejected by a merchant, it may be because an identity thief is using the MICR code (the numbers at the bottom of checks), your driver's license number, or another identification number. The merchant who rejects your check should give you its check verification company contact information so you can find out what information the thief is using. If you find that the thief is using your MICR code, ask your bank to close your checking account, and open a new one.

Other Identification Number

If you discover that the thief is using your driver's license number or some other identification number, work with your DMV or other identification issuing agency to get new identification with new numbers. Once you have taken the appropriate steps, your checks should be accepted.

Note: The check verification company may or may not remove the information about the MICR code or the driver's license/identification number from its database because this information may help prevent the thief from continuing to commit fraud.

If the checks are being passed on a new account, contact the bank to close the account. Also contact Chex Systems, Inc., to review your consumer report to make sure that no other bank accounts have been opened in your name.