Someone cashing a check by forging your signature is one of the most common types of fraud. Not only is it scary, but it can leave your bank account near-empty!
But all hope isn’t lost. We’ll tell you exactly how to deal with it below.
How Banks Deal With Forged Signatures on Cashed Checks (Lost Check)
Most national banks reimburse any improperly endorsed cashed checks. However, they have a right to investigate the circumstances to prove whether you’re entitled to a reimbursement.
If the bank can confirm the following, you may not be eligible for a refund:
- The bank clerks used the standard diligence and care when cashing the check.
- The bank accepted the check in good faith.
On top of that, if it’s discovered that you haven’t kept on top of your financial reporting, you could be somewhat liable.
The same applies if you’ve mishandled your checkbook or completed checks incorrectly.
To handle your case correctly, the bank asks you to fill in an affidavit. You might also need to file an official police report, but that depends on your circumstances.
What’s an Affidavit?
An affidavit is simply a written statement that you swear to be true. In other words, it is an oath that everything written on the document is nothing but the truth.
How to Report Signature Fraud
When you need to inform your bank of a forged cashed check, time is vital.
Generally speaking, you have 30 days from the statement date to find the problem and tell your bank. However, this period changes from bank to bank, so we advise checking before getting into a sticky situation.
Aside from keeping an eye on the time, you should also:
- Shutdown Your Checking Account — You should call your bank and request a hold or closure. You don’t want the fraudulent individual making further withdrawals. Ask them to inform you about any additional movement on your now-closed account on the same phone call.
- Contact Check Verification Company — Even though you’ve closed your account, checks deposited will be denied by the bank. So, verification organizations won’t be successful in collecting fraudulent checks.
- Take Extra Precautions — Ask your bank what type of ID was used by the fraudster when it was shown to the clerk. You must identify whether your state identification or driver’s license is compromised. If it’s your driver’s license, make sure you request a new one from your local DMV office.
Is Forgery a Federal Crime?
Forgery is a federal crime when somebody creates or possesses false paperwork like military documents, postage stamps, money, and more. However, it’s typically a state crime.
What Is The Penalty for Signature Forgery On Checks?
Speaking of states, it’s important to note that the penalties for the person who committed this crime against you vary wildly depending on where you live. See what the fraudster could face in your state:
|states||Minimum Penalty||Maximum Penalty|
|Alabama||Up to 1 year in jail and $6,000||20 years in prison and $30,000|
|Alaska||Up to 1 year in prison and $10,000||10 years in prison and $100,000|
|Arizona||Up to 3 years and 9 months in prison||9 years in prison|
|Arkansas||Between 3 and 10 years in prison and up to $10,000||Between 5 and 20 years in prison and $15,000|
|California||Up to 1 year in county jail||Between 2 and 4 years in prison|
|Colorado||Between 3 and 12 months in jail and between $250 and $1,000||1 and 3 years in prison and between $1,000 and $100,000|
|Connecticut||Up to $5,000||5 years in jail|
|Delaware||Up to 3 years imprisonment||1 year in prison and a $2,300|
|Florida||Up to $5,000||5 years in prison|
|Georgia||Up to $1,000 and 12 months in county jail||15 years in prison|
|Hawaii||Up to 1 year in jail and up to $4,000||2 to 10 years in prison and $10,000|
|Idaho||At least 1 year in prison||14 years in prison|
|Illinois||Less than 1 year in prison and up to $2,500||Between 2 and 5 years in prison and $25,000|
|Indiana||Between 2 and 8 years in prison and up to $10,000||30 years in federal prison and $250,000|
|Iowa||Up to 2 years in jail and between $625 and $6,250||5 years in prison and $7,500|
|Kansas||$500 and 30 days in jail||23 months in prison and $2,500|
|Kentucky||5 years in prison||10 years in prison|
|Louisiana||$5,000 and 6 months in jail||$5,000 and 10 years in prison|
|Maine||0-1 year in prison and up to $5,000||5 years in prison and $5,000|
|Maryland||Up to $1,000||10 years in prison and $1,000|
|Massachusetts||Up to 2 years imprisonment in house of corrections||10 years in jail|
|Michigan||1 year in prison||14 years in prison|
|Minnesota||Up to 3 years in prison and up to $5,000||10 years in prison and $20,000|
|Mississippi||2 years in Penitentiary||10 years in Penitentiary and $10,000|
|Missouri||Up to 4 years in prison||10 years in prison|
|Montana||Up to 6 months in prison and up to $1,500||20 years in prison and $50,000|
|Nebraska||Up to 3 months in prison and $1,000||4 years in prison and $25,000|
|Nevada||1 year in prison and up to $5,000||5 years in prison and $10,000|
|New Hampshire||Up to $1,200||7 years in prison and $4,000|
|New Jersey||Up to 6 months in jail and at least $100||5 years in prison and at least $500|
|New Mexico||Up to 6 months in jail and up to $500||9 years in prison|
|New York||Up to 1 year in jail||7 years in prison|
|North Carolina||Between 3 and 12 months in prison||31 months in prison|
|North Dakota||1 year in jail and up to $3,000||20 years in prison and $20,000|
|Ohio||6 to 12 months in prison or $2,500||8 years in prison and $15,000|
|Oklahoma||Up to 1 year in jail and up to $1,000||10 years in prison|
|Oregon||Up to 1 year in jail and up to $6,250||5 years in prison and $125,000|
|Pennsylvania||Up to 5 years in prison and up to $10,000||10 years in prison and $25,000|
|Rhode Island||Up to 5 years in prison and up to $1,000||10 years in prison and $1,000|
|South Carolina||Up to 1 year in prison and up to $1,000||10 years in prisozn and a fine|
|South Dakota||0-1 years in prison and up to $10,000||5 years in prison and $10,000|
|Tennessee||1 year in prison and up to $3,000||2 years in prison and up to $3,000|
|Texas||Up to 2 years in prison and up to $10,000||10 years in prison and $10,000|
|Utah||Up to 5 years in prison and a fine||15 years in state prison and a fine|
|Vermont||Up to $1,000||10 years in prison and $1,000|
|Virginia||0-1 year in prison and a $2,500 fine||10 years in prison and $2,500|
|Washington||0-1 year in jail and fine||5 years in prison and $10,000|
|West Virginia||2 years in prison||10 years in prison|
|Wisconsin||9 months in jail and up to $10,000||6 years in prison and $10,000|
|Wyoming||6 months in prison and up to $750||10 years in prison and $10,000|