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Five Tips For Preventing Thefts From Your Checking Account

Are you leaving yourself open to larceny by being careless with your checking account? Here are some hints—some obvious and some not—on how to protect your checking account from forgers and other larcenous individuals:

  1. Never write checks with an erasable ball-point pen. Under humid conditions, the ink can take hours, sometimes days, to dry fully. In the interim, a forger can change what you've written.
  1. In writing a check, leave no blank spaces, such as before or after the name of the payee, before or after the spelled-out amount of the check and between the dollar symbol and the numerical amount. Cross out the blank areas so a thief can't add information.
  1. If you mail a deposit or put it into an automatic teller machine or night depository slot, write "For Deposit Only" above your endorsement signature on the back of the check. That way, your check can't be cashed if it falls into the wrong hands.
  1. Don't keep a record of your checking account number and your automatic teller machine (ATM) personal identification number (PIN) in the same place (for example, in your wallet). Together, these numbers make it relatively easy for a thief to steal from your account-even without a check.
  1. If you stop payment on a check, do it in writing and do it as soon as possible. While a bank will usually issue a stop-order on your verbal instructions, you may have a problem if the bank inadvertently pays the check. To stop payment on a certified or teller's check, the bank might require, depending on the circumstances, a bond from you for as much as twice the check's amount.

For further information, contact Diane M. Pearson, CFP™ at (412) 635-9210 or

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