CALL 6: Indy homeowner gets $5,000 back after a thief stole her checkbook and drained her account

Bank says checkbook placement critical in claims

INDIANAPOLIS -- Where you keep your checkbook matters, and it could end up costing you if it gets into the wrong hands.

Van Ha says she’s lucky, now, but she was at a loss after her checkbook went missing from her home last year. 

Ha said she kept her bank book out of sight in her home, so when it went missing, she had no idea it was even gone.

She said someone named Ricardo Willis had gotten ahold of it and started writing checks for all kinds of amounts, eventually draining her account of $5,000 between October and November of last year.

"I don't know him,” said Ha.  “I don't know why he got my checks."

Van was counting on Chase Bank to help recover the stolen money, but it wasn’t as easy as it sounds.

The bank first had to review the request and make sure Van had kept her end of the bargain by making sure her checkbook was not accessible to a stranger.

In fact, her bank account disclosure document has a warning to all customers on page 7:  

"You must protect your checks and other account documents and information from theft and unauthorized use. You must write your checks in a way that prevents someone else from completing, altering or adding to them without your authorization. If you become aware that any checks or other documents and information, such as statements, have been lost or stolen, you must notify us immediately. If you fail to do any of these things, such as leaving your checks where they can easily be stolen, we are not responsible for any losses that may result."

Ha's daughter, Tracy Patterson, says her mother kept her checkbook in her home office.

"This has been a difficult time,” said Patterson. “I think it's been difficult. I wasn't aware of any of this until I met with the bank manager."

She said her mother had no idea how the thief got her checks or when he took them.

"My mom told me she was embarrassed,” said Patterson.  “She doesn't know the person who got a hold of her checks."

Van's claim to get a refund was initially going slow, so Call 6 Investigates reached out to Chase Bank to ask for help.

Once the bank confirmed that Van's home was burglarized, she was refunded the $5,000 stolen from her account. 

Van is grateful for the resolution and has a message for the crook: “You wrong, you can’t have my money, you must return my money back.”

Chase Bank issued the following statement regarding the matter:

"We're happy to have resolved this matter for the customer. We now understand that her home was burglarized, which wasn't clear in the initial claim. We apologize for causing her frustration."

Each bank has their own policy on how you need to protect your checkbook and what steps you need to take when yours is stolen. They also offer various identity theft protection programs that could help keep you from becoming a victim. 

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