When it comes to scams, fraud, and identity theft, no one is immune. That’s the sad reality for a retired public figure, longtime sports writer Bob White, whose career dates back to the early ‘70s. The Louisville-based former reporter only discovered he’d been the victim of financial fraud when his checks began to bounce and calls came in from his utility companies, his mortgage lender, and more.
White had been the victim of an account takeover, but the story gets even worse. Because this person was targeting White’s mailbox, he didn’t receive his bank statements with the drained funds, past due bills, or more. When the matter was reported to the bank, the sad truth came out: White is responsible for the funds going missing.
How is that possible? Since the thief stole the evidence of any wrongdoing, White was unaware of the problem. Unfortunately, after the bank notified him in writing that large withdrawals had been made from his account, he essentially accepted responsibility for the withdrawals by not taking immediate action.
There is a small sliver of hope for the victim in this case. He has a strong suspicion as to who the thief may be and has already filed a police report. The police have begun a formal investigation, but that doesn’t mean White is out of the woods. One way of looking at the scenario is this: if the thief had money lying around to repay White’s accounts, he or she wouldn’t have resorted to this kind of crime in the first place. White can hope that the thief made large purchases with the funds, and therefore some of the money may be recoverable.
As it stands, White’s entire retirement savings are gone. The thief stole more than $50,000, leaving him with nothing but bills he cannot pay. Friends, family members, even fellow members of his church have chipped in to help him get by, raising roughly $8,000 so far.
In order to avoid a struggle such as this one, it’s important to know the regulations surrounding your own accounts, as well as any other rules your lenders, financial institutions, or even utility companies might have in place to protect you. Also, the rules surrounding victim liability for something like credit card theft aren’t the same as the rules for your checking account, so it’s important to know the difference.
Finally, this awful example serves as another reminder that the “old school” methods of committing financial fraud are still viable, and therefore not to be taken for granted. Changes to your mail delivery should be investigated thoroughly to make sure someone isn’t stealing your mail; documents that arrive at the house should be destroyed before discarding if there’s even the slightest chance they could be used against you.
If you think you may be a victim of identity theft, contact the Identity Theft Resource Center for toll-free, no-cost assistance at (888) 400-5530. For on-the-go assistance, check out the free ID Theft Help App.