There is an epidemic across the nation of stolen rent checks. They’re being taken from drop boxes at leasing offices, and it’s gravely concerning. Some thefts are obvious and evident, with boxes ripped out of the wall, and the landlord might cut you some slack. Some thefts are less obvious and you might not be so lucky. In several instances, someone has attached a sticky substance to a string or a stick and used it to grab checks right out of the box with little telltale damage. Those stolen rent checks are harder to explain to the landlord.
The first concern, of course, is making sure the landlord knows that you made a good faith effort to pay and that you’ll replace the check. But before you replace the check, you’d be well advised to call your bank, cancel the old checking account, and reopen a new one. This prevents the thief from trying to cash checks with your signature (conveniently right there on the check) off your account. The bank will give you starter checks, and your landlord will likely accept that.
Do you have identify fraud protection on your Renters Insurance? That coverage is very important to this sort of loss because the thief can write checks in your name. Checks have far fewer protections than credit cards, and you can be responsible for those checks in many instances. If you have identify fraud protection on your renters insurance, that stolen rent check is a far smaller concern. Most policies even offer a hotline you can call for advice on how to handle a situation like this and how to mitigate the damages.
Be advised that you may not be aware of these nefarious thefts until your landlord calls you or drops by wondering where the check is. There are steps you can take, though, to protect yourself.
First and foremost, always pay your rent by credit card or debit card it at all possible, even if it costs you a few bucks extra. That gives you the protection of knowing it’s going where it should, and also the protection of knowing that if your card information falls into the wrong hands, your liability for that is quite limited in most cases.
If you must use a check for some reason, hand it to someone in the office and get a receipt. In the alternative, mail it – that’s at least somewhat safer than drop boxes. If you have to mail it, consider sending it certified so you have proof of when you sent it if it gets stolen from their mailbox (unlikely).
If you don’t have identify fraud protection on your Renters Insurance, call Effective Coverage to get it today, before your checks are stolen and used!