Printed bank statement may have fallen into wrong hands. What to do?
February 25, 2014 11:45 AM   Subscribe

My mother still gets her bank statements by paper mail. Her latest one failed to be delivered for 2 weeks now, and she verified the bank mailed it, so we assume it was delivered by the mail carrier to the wrong address, or dropped, or something. Nothing has happened yet, but it seems best to guard against the worst-case scenario, namely that someone else now has her home address, bank address, all account numbers (including retirement accounts), possibly other identifying information, and has the willingness to exploit it. What are the prudent steps we should take?

We have set up alerts with the bank to watch for large withdrawals and have switched her to get electronic statements instead of paper ones. Should we close the accounts and reopen new ones (ones that will, hopefully, be inaccessible to whoever has her current info?) Are there other things we can do?
posted by StrawberryPie to Work & Money (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
What does your bank recommend?

Go into a branch and speak to someone there, they'll be happy to assist you.

There was a lot of weather in the past couple of weeks, the thing could just have been lost. But if you're concerned, go to the bank and follow their recommendations.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 11:49 AM on February 25, 2014 [1 favorite]

As long as you monitor the monthly statements for irregularities (something you should be doing anyway) you shouldn't bear any liability for unauthorized transactions you report to the bank in a timely manner.
posted by dcjd at 11:53 AM on February 25, 2014 [6 favorites]

I'd just keep an eye on it. As a renter, I get other people's bank statements and stuff all the time. I recycle it... I assume most people do similar, or return to sender.

Maybe check with her neighbors though... my aunt's hood has mail thieves. This was lots of mail, to and from, disappearing regularly from multiple homes though.

My vote is for dropped in the snow.
posted by jrobin276 at 12:31 PM on February 25, 2014

Just FYI I don't think the full account number is displayed on the bank statement, usually it's just the last 4 digits. I don't think it's anything to worry about.
posted by katypickle at 1:13 PM on February 25, 2014 [3 favorites]

I wouldn't worry about it at all really. Check future statements for weird charges but otherwise I'd operate as normal.

When you write a check to someone they get your home address, bank address, and bank account/routing number (and possibly phone and DL number) so you shouldn't really consider that private information.
posted by magnetsphere at 1:16 PM on February 25, 2014 [3 favorites]

Yeah, there isn't really anything in a bank statement that people can use to take your money. Banks know statements get misdelivered all the time. And as magnetsphere says, anyone you've written a cheque to has all that info.
posted by Jairus at 1:28 PM on February 25, 2014

I know my bank statements do not have the full account number on them -- only the last four digits. Does your mother have any older statements around that she can check to see if that is the case with her bank?
posted by merejane at 3:41 PM on February 25, 2014

Response by poster: Unfortunately, this bank does in fact print the full account numbers -- I checked past statements, and they have checking, savings, CDs, brokerage accounts, the whole works. Seems kinda stupid, now that I think about it....
posted by StrawberryPie at 5:33 PM on February 26, 2014

Response by poster: Thanks for everyone's help. We ended up doing the following: (1) set my mother up with electronic access to her accounts, with electronic-only delivery of statements to prevent future paper mail mishaps like this, and (2) email alerts on every kind of withdrawal, with low thresholds, so that she will be notified if something happens.
posted by StrawberryPie at 9:05 AM on March 12, 2014

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