There may come a time when you realize that your checkbook or debit card has been stolen. It is important to act quickly as soon as you make this realization, so that you will not be held liable for any money that the thief decides to spend from your accounts. Here are the five things you need to do once you find out your checkbook or wallet is stolen.
First, you need to call your bank and put a freeze on your account. Generally a freeze will only last twenty-four hours. This will temporarily stop all checks and debit transactions from going through. As a result you may have items that you have already paid (such as your rent) that do not clear the bank as a result of the freeze. This is different from putting a stop payment on just one check.
Second, you need to gather up information such as old statements, your checkbook ledger or a computer printout of your recent transactions and recent receipts to take with you to the bank. These items will help you and your customer service representative decide which items to allow to clear.
Third, you need to go to your bank to close your account and to open a new one. You should allow extra time to do this. The customer service representative will sit down with you and make a list of items that you will allow to clear out of your old account. (This would include the items that you have gathered above.) She will then open a new account for you.
Fourth, you should file a police report. This is only necessary if you are sure that the checkbook was stolen. If you just misplaced the checkbook, and you are closing the account as a preventative measure, you can skip this step. This report is necessary if you end up dealing with identity theft.
Fifth, you need to make a list on any automatic drafts or deposits that involve this account. You will need to contact each of these people and make the necessary changes, so that they will have your new account number. You should do this as quickly as possible since many places take at least two weeks to file the paperwork.
- You will need to follow similar steps if your credit cards are stolen. It is important to contact each account as quickly as possible.