Guard Your Mailbox!

Two weeks ago, a miscreant of a man took a check out of an envelope in our mailbox. He altered it, leaving my signature and then drove across the county line to cash it, stealing nearly $2,000 from my parents’ bank account. It was the weekend, so I had to wait until Monday morning to meet with the bank, show our carbon check and report the fraud. Since this account had been compromised, we were advised to close it and open a new checking account.

And that’s when the trouble really began.

 

My name was on the old account, along with my parents, so I could write checks, make deposits, etc. It just made things easier. Although my Father lives in a nursing home, his name must be on this checking account so his Social Security checks will continue to be deposited. When I tried to explain that it was impossible for him to physically come to the bank, I was told that he could do an E-signature.

 

“Your Father needs to have his own cell phone number and email address,” the bank officer told me.  “You’ll need to make an appointment to open a new checking account and while you and your Mother are here at the bank, we’ll send an email to your Father and text him a code on his cell phone. He’ll put that code into the email and send it back to us.”

 

“You do realize he has dementia, right?” I asked incredulously.

 

She remained unfazed. “I’m sorry but this is what we require.”

 

Go to jail. Go directly to jail. Do not pass ‘Go’. Do not collect $200.

I nursed a migraine for three days straight, making calls and trying to figure out a way to make the impossible happen. I filed a police report in the county the miscreant cashed the check. I even went to another bank to see if we could open a checking account there, but we ran into the same problem.

 

This is what a Power of Attorney (POA) document is for ~ to allow my Mother to do business on my Father’s behalf. But just because you have a POA doesn’t mean the bank will accept it. One bank may think it’s fine while another bank refuses it. Perhaps it has to do with the mood these attorneys are in who pour over the documents with a magnifying glass.

We submitted my Father’s POA document to the bank and it was forwarded to headquarters. They approved it and agreed that my Mother did indeed have legal authority to act as my Father’s financial representative.

 

I started to breathe easy. Crisis averted, right? Wrong.

 

When we got to the bank to open the new account, we were told that it would be opened specifically for my Father (instead of a joint account that they’d shared for decades) and my Mother could be on the account but I could not.

 

Go to jail. Go directly to jail. Do not pass ‘Go’. Do not collect $200.

 

We weren’t trying to buy Boardwalk or Park Place, nor were we trying to hop on the Reading Railroad. We were just trying to open a new account since we were forced to close our existing account, all because someone hijacked our check and stole 2 grand from my parents.

 

I am not a lawyer, nor am I a banker. So I cannot tell you the best language for a POA or even if these bank rules are universal or vary from bank to bank. What I can tell you is that this feels like we’re being forced to play a game of twister for hours, but we’re not allowed a break and we must win if we are to open a new checking account. I’m not one of the Incredibles. I’m not Elastigirl, although I’m sure when this is over my appendages will have lengthened even if just a bit.

PIxar

“I need you to find a way for all three of us to be on that account,” I told the bank officer.

 

She volunteered to consult a team at headquarters to see if there was any way that could be done. It just seems odd to me that once you have a POA and are unable to sign for yourself, you are not allowed to be part of a joint bank account. Who makes up these rules? Why would a couple, who’ve had a joint bank account for nearly 57 years not be allowed to continue that way?

 

So we wait. If the powers that be can find a creative way for all three of us to have our names on this new account, then hallelujah! But if not, our only other option is to have my Father’s check deposited into their savings account and then transfer the money to the new checking account. But that feels too much like stealing from Peter to pay Paul. I know there are more complex solutions such as trusts, etc. but just the thought of that makes me reach for the migraine medicine.

 

So why am I telling you all of this?

 

Sometimes you don’t know what you need until you need it. So please do yourself a favor and learn from my experience.

 

  1. Don’t leave checks in your mailbox – even in broad daylight – take them to the post office.

 

  1. Find out about your bank’s policies.

 

  1. Make sure your loved ones (parents, grandparents, etc.) have both a medical POA and a financial POA. Personally, I would recommend finding an attorney who specializes in elder law. If you don’t have a POA in place, start the ball rolling.

 

Maybe then, you can avoid this diabolical game of twister.

 

8 thoughts on “Guard Your Mailbox!”

  1. So sorry this happened to you! What a hassle! We got a medical and financial POA for our parents. We have been going round and round with the bank trying to get them accept the financial POA. We started the process in late December and it’s still not approved. As for taking things to the post office, even that’s not fool-proof. Many years ago, I took 3 birthday cards, each with $10 cash in them, to the post office. The postal lady was just taking the outgoing mail out of the box, so I handed them to her. Safe, right? Nope! About 3 months later, I get a large envelope with all 3 of those cards inside. The envelopes had been ripped open, the money taken (NEVER mail cash!), and the cards left. There was a report that I had to sign saying that this woman did not have authority to open my mail, which I returned but it never made any difference to me. It was only $30 that I lost and 2 nieces and a nephew that thought I had forgotten their birthdays!

    1. Oh my! 😳 Seems like a lot of people are having issues with their mail.
      Sorry about your POA drama. Do you have an attorney?

  2. First off, I am very, very sorry you are going through this junk.
    Secondly, in case you don’t have an attorney, I have two good friends who are good one’s.
    Third; I have banker friends who are VP’s and Presidents They may know how to advise.
    Finally, I will be praying for you

  3. Great article. Makes me wonder why when you get hacked or stolen from, you have to do all the work. It is like we are the criminals. I am for going back to demanding a finger print when a check is cashed. I take joy in knowing that God saw it all.

  4. How horrible for you! I quit mailing checks from my house several years ago. (I don’t write many – mostly bank on line.) I take all outgoing mail to the post office and take inside and drop in the box that goes directly to the inside of the building. Is that even enough? In these days and times – who knows? Praying you get this resolved soon🙏🏼

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