His girlfriend's son was a heroin addict. He found the man's checkbook and began writing checks. It went on for months before the victim noticed that he was missing $40,000.
The law on debit card fraud provides another good reason to watch statements. If you report a theft within two days of receiving the statement, your liability is limited to $50, although most banks will replace all your money.
If you wait up to 60 days, you can lose up to $500. Wait longer, and you can lose it all.
The law is friendlier to consumers with credit cards. If your credit card is stolen, your losses are limited to $50, although nearly all credit card issuers will charge you nothing. If the card number is stolen, but not the card, you are liable for nothing, according to the Federal Trade Commission.
DeRousse, the banker, has some other advice: "Never let the card leave your sight," says DeRousse. Watch as a clerk swipes it.
Some customers are just too trusting, says DeRousse. They may give their cards to a caregiver so she or he can buy items for the family at a grocery store. With your name, the security code and the card number, "they can go on a heyday with your card," says Rousse.
Hodge recommends ditching the debit card, and using a simple ATM card instead along with a credit card. Thefts made on a credit card don't come directly from your bank account, eliminating the hassle of bouncing checks and a drained account.
Rokusek says Western Union sent her a flier titled "Protect yourself from fraud." It reminds customers not to wire money to strangers. It cites come-ons thieves often use, such as claiming that a relative is sick or in jail, that the victim has won the lottery or has a job opportunity.
Rokusek was struck by another line in the flier. "They take care to remind me that they do not give refunds -- even if the transfer is the result of fraud. How helpful," Rokusek says. "The hilarity burns."