Last night I received a call promising me a ten day Caribbean cruise, including airfare and meals for only $199.99. I refused to proivde the caller my credit card number, however, I disclosed my checking account number. Did I make a mistake?

Never disclose your checking account number (or credit card number) over the phone to an unsolicited telephone sales call. With your account number the caller can gain access to the money in your account. If you have given your account number to someone, you should contact your financial institution, have them immediately close the account and open a new one (with a new number). If funds have already been removed from your account, work with your financial institution to try and recover your money.

The person purchasing my car wants to send me a check for $1,000 more than my purchase price. He has asked me to wire the $1,000 to the person shipping the car to him. When can I be sure the check won't be returned?

This may be a scam. Many people have wire the money once the bank or credit union makes the funds available and then discover the check is counterfeit or has insufficient funds. By law, banks and credit unions must make funds available in 5 business days; many financial institutions will allow withdrawals in a day or two. However, it can take a week or more for the check to be returned as counterfeit or insufficient funds. The amount of the check will be deducted from your account and if the funds have been wired you will owe the financial institution these amounts. Read the article about Giving the Bounce to Counterfeit Check Scams.

My checkbook was stolen and someone forged my name to cash checks. Am I responsible for these checks?

You will need to contact the police and file a criminal complaint and notify your bank or credit union and close the checking account. You will not be held responsible for checks you did not sign. You will need to follow your financial institution's dispute process.

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