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In my area, crooks are putting fishing poles in federal mail boxes and stealing the mail that comes out. They are looking for checks and papers with other identifying information. Even if they cannot cash the check, they have the routing number and account number and can take money out of your account.
I know this because it happened to me last month. I got my bank statement and saw my tax payment check was outstanding. A couple days later I saw a large payment was taken out of my checking account. I went to the bank and filed a report. I got the money back, plus the overdraft fee. I opened a new account without overdraft and will close the old one as soon as our direct deposits go into the new account.
The compromised account has a lock on it. The bank must call me to approve anything. I got a call two days ago that someone wanted an automatic payment of over $400. I never authorized this, and it was denied.
The tax check was never received. I went to town hall and paid in person. I will now do it online, even though there is a small fee.
In my case, a cash-back credit card was established, linked to my checking account. This enabled the thieves to bypass some of the security.
I know it is a federal offense to take mail out of a mailbox. I always thought that if you couldn't pay something online, this was a good way to do it. Apparently not anymore!
The moral of the story is to check your bank accounts and credit card statements often and thoroughly. I found the breach right away. The bank told me that some people find out months later. Pay your bills online using a secure connection or by phone. If you have to mail something, go inside the post office.
Source: Personal experience
We had to open a completely new checking account last year, after having the same # for over 40 years. We noticed a small charge that we couldn't identify in another state. The bank took care of it. When it happened a second time, we had to change everything.
I watch our account on-line just about every day, plus my husband's business account. Every bill, other than church pledge, is paid on-line or by transfer.
I've got friends who still refuse to use on-line banking, preferring to write paper checks. Telling them that they're putting all their information, name, address, checking acct.#s, etc., out there hasn't convinced them. I've only had two occasions when checks were lost since I went to on-line banking 22 years ago. I don't know how many paper checks got lost over the years.
It seems like online paying, as long as the network is secure, is the safest way to go.
Our bank has taken care of late charges when the payment got there late, (even though I'd paid it in plenty of time through them).
Once I tried paying bills on-line, I never wanted to go back to writing checks. We used to run about 75 checks a month through our account. Now, it's about 15 a year. Back then I figured I was saving at least $8-10 a month in postage. Now, it would be a lot more.
I just recently set up my house payment with my bank. They send out the payment every other Friday (on payday). It's technically a check but the bank does the whole thing so there little risk of my information being stolen. So that is another option if someone doesn't accept online payments.