An 80-year-old Maryland woman changed how she shops after someone used her account to write hundreds of dollars in counterfeit checks.
“I’ve been writing checks for probably 60 years at least,” said Jean Fippin of New Carrollton.
She pays her water, gas, electric and telephone bills by check and used to write checks at the grocery store – until someone got ahold of her routing and account numbers and started writing checks against her account.
“I got my statement from the bank and I noticed that there were extra checks written on my account for things that I had not purchased,” Fippin said.
Her bank sent her copies of those checks showing her routing and account numbers, but her name and address were replaced with a stranger’s information.
The first was a $187 check written to a Giant grocery store where she doesn’t regularly shop.
“I had not been to Giant for maybe two years or so and I very seldom write a check for $187 for groceries, anyway,” she said.
The counterfeit checks totaled about $800.
“It could have wiped me out completely,” she said.
Fippin immediately went to the bank and canceled the account.
Federal law requires banks and credit unions to refund the full disputed amount less a maximum of $50 if its investigation goes longer than 10 days.
“All the money has been returned to my checking account,” Fippin said.
She opened a new account and no longer writes checks for groceries. The bank issued her a debit card.
“I’ve never used a debit card before, so that’s kind of a different world for me,” she said.
The New Carrollton Police Department is investigating.
The Consumer Finance Protection Bureau has information about what to do if someone takes money from your account without permission.