The Maid Is Stealing Your Checkbook

Identity theft is rising in the recession, according to a Brooklyn public defender I talked to at a party this weekend. Most often the crime starts with the perp stealing the victim’s checkbook, he said.

With that, they’ve usually got your name, address, and definitely your bank account and routing number, all of which they can use to open up new accounts in your name and go on a spending spree, leaving you hanging with the charges. Not to mention, of course, just using those checks in the checkbook to buy stuff.

Who’s doing the lifting? Service personnel the victim let into their home, like maids and electricians. Unsettling , you ask them to clean the house and instead they clean you out.

(Photo: Betsssssy)

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  1. pecan 3.14159265 says:

    All of the solutions to this problem I had in my head ran into major roadblocks. For instance, I keep my checkbooks in a safe, but why couldn’t the maid just steal the safe? But there’s a key to the safe…but I have a set of keys hanging on the hook at home because only one of us drives.

    My ultimate solution is this: either don’t hire a maid, or find a different location for your checkbook and/or safe when you do expect someone to be entering your home unsupervised.

    • nakedscience says:

      @pecan 3.14159265: You can’t just stop your life. Hide those personal things as well as you can, or, better yet, have someone home when the maids, whatever, come. My friends have a maid come every two weeks (they have tons of pets, it helps), and the maids aren’t allowed to enter their main bedroom, so that’s where they stuff the cats and keep the checkbook.

    • HiPwr says:

      @pecan 3.14159265: Still better to have a safe. Why make it easy for them? Plus you might notice something missing a little sooner and hopefully mitigate the damages.

    • sanjsrik says:

      @pecan 3.14159265:

      How about don’t have a checkbook? I haven’t had a checkbook in years. I have an ING direct account and write either paper or online (and even email) checks from my ING account. AND use the same account with the debit card.

    • klc says:

      @pecan 3.14159265: Could you not have just bolted the safe down? Or built a heavy bracket mounting it somewhere? Or concealed the thing somewhere on/in your property? Or buy a *combination* safe, if you are so inclined?

      Protip: If using a bolt-in mounting solution that penetrates the inside wall, your fire rating may be compromised, and as such a firestopping system with a rating meeting or exceeding that of the safe may need to be installed.

      Information Security is not that hard…

    • gStein_*|bringing starpipe back|* says:

      @pecan 3.14159265: but what if you need to pay someone with a check?
      then they have your name, address, phone #, and bank account/routing #s

  2. Canino says:

    That doesn’t sound like “identity theft” to me. It sounds like just plain old check fraud. Are they using the checks to somehow open new credit card accounts and get car loans, or are they just forging the signature and cashing them?

    • wrjohnston91283 says:

      @Canino: I feel that a lot of the identity theft is just that – stolen credit cards or stolen checks. The thief is not passing themselves off as you – they are simply using your checks or credit card to get money. I think the credit monitoring services use cases like that to scare people into thinking millions of people have their ID’s stolen each day, when in fact it’s simple theft they are talking about.

    • Myownheroine says:

      @Canino:

      Well, when they use your credit card or your checkbook, they are going to sign your name, right? They’re not going to sign their own! They are passing themselves off as you.

      So, while taking the checkbook itself is just ordinary theft, when they actually use one of the checks, they are going to be using your identity.

  3. nakedscience says:

    A few years ago, I let my younger sister stay with me a few days. BIG MISTAKE. She took my old state ID, and checkbook. I didn’t notice until a few days after I had kicked her out for unrelated issues, when I went online and saw several checks go through that I didn’t write. AWESOME.

    • katieoh says:

      @nakedscience: family can be a huge problem when it comes to theft/id theft. it’s probably a bigger deal than the “help.”

      • nakedscience says:

        @katieoh: I should have known better. When she was a minor, she got nabbed a few times for check fraud. She stole several checks from my parents’ business. AWESOME!

        I also learned that, when she “cleaned” my apartment as a favor when I was at work, she used that opportunity to steal quite a few things. I was assessing damage for weeks after she left.

        NEVER AGAIN!

    • James Frank says:

      @nakedscience:
      Thats very sad if you can’t trust family who can you trust.

  4. Jonbo298 says:

    I just don’t use checks and get “Convenience checks” from my Bank when necessary (VERY rare, usually due to direct deposit setup at a job and they just have to have a cancelled check). Have yet to run into a situation beyond job where I need it. If debit card gets lost/stolen, I can see activity instantly or stop anything from happening in its tracks.

    Though for the story in general, you can’t trust everyone so you just have to try and not leave out checks for others to just use.

    • nakedscience says:

      @katieoh: I shouldn’t have had her stay with me, but she’s family, you know? Before she turned 18, she got nabbed a few times for check fraud … she stole my parents’ business checks. Awesome, eh?

      No, she will never be staying with me again: I learned my lesson! (She also “cleaned” my apartment as a favor when I was at work, but after I kicked her out, I suddenly started realizing that quite a few things were suddenly gone. Sneaky.)

      • LegoMan322 says:

        @nakedscience: Even thought it’s your sister and you knew she was capable of stealing your checks….I think that is completely your fault. If any member of my family did that (or I had prior knowledge of them doing that) They would not be allowed anywhere near my home or possessions.

        • nakedscience says:

          @LegoMan322: I may not have made the best judgement in letting her stay with me, but it still wasn’t MY fault. That’s ridiculous!

          She is the one who stole the checks. She is the thief. For the record, when she commited check fraud the first time around, she was 15 or 16. When she stayed with me, she was 22 — a good five years later. We thought that was all behind her, as she had been working on things, but clearly she still had issues (I suspect her boyfriend at the time talked her into it; he was actually why I kicked her out, because he was creepy).

          She later appologized. It turned out that what she bought was actually food and clothing. She didn’t go and buy a big scren TV. Still, I felt violated and I was pissed, and rightfully so. She knows I won’t let her stay with me again like that, at least not for a long time (this was all a few years ago, and things have gotten better for her).

          She is my sister, and I’ll never abandon her completely, and no, it wasn’t my fault.

          • pecan 3.14159265 says:

            @nakedscience: I think family is extremely forgiving – and therefore may not see the worst in anyone. I think while you may have had poor judgment by letting her stay with you, what else were you going to do? She’s your sister. Ultimately, there’s a family bond there. Also, no one wants to get a phone call from mom and dad going “why aren’t you letting your sister stay?”

            Sometimes, you suffer through the follies of family because they’re your family. You have to prepare as best you can and hope for the best.

            • nakedscience says:

              @pecan 3.14159265: Exactly. I honestly didn’t expect her to steal my damn checkbook, especially since I was allowing her to stay there. And as I’ve explained, she wasn’t trying to buy booze or a big screen tv. Mostly I was pissed because of the inconvenience. In the end, I got my money back (money I would have given her had she asked….), and she didn’t get arrested because by then she had left the city.

              She didn’t have anywhere else to go! What was I going to do LegoMan322, let her stay on the streets? She’s my sister.

            • nakedscience says:

              @LegoMan322: And let me get this clear. Say you accidently leave your car door unlocked because you’re in a hurry. Your car gets stolen. It’s “completely your fault!” right? Am I getting that clear? Not, “The thief is clearly at fault, but you made a poor decision by not locking your door” but … it’s “completely your fault”?

              Stop victim blaming. It’s stupid.

              • LegoMan322 says:

                @nakedscience: OK…so in both situations you are the victim. If the car gets stolen…it’s your fault. If your sister steal money from you (when you know she has a history of stealing from your parents) it’s your fault.

                Wake up

          • LegoMan322 says:

            @nakedscience: “She is the one who stole the checks. She is the thief. For the record, when she commited check fraud the first time around, she was 15 or 16.”

            Since you of this…how the hell can you claim “its not your fault?” Weird

            • pecan 3.14159265 says:

              @LegoMan322: Because there’s such a thing as forgiveness, and family. I can tell you that I won’t abandon family members, unless they start endangering my life or other family members’ lives. Then they’re on their own. Things like money…get it back, learn your lesson, be more cautious. But it’s hard to abandon family, even if they make bad choices. As a family member, it’s your duty to try to help this person overcome the obstacles because you love them.

            • nakedscience says:

              @LegoMan322: How is it “completely my fault” when … I wasn’t the one doing the stealing?!

              Since you of this…how the hell can you claim “its not your fault?” Weird “

              1)Because it was 5 years prior, and we thought things had gotten better (there were other issues at the time she was staying with me that we weren’t aware of; like her VERY controlling and VERY abusive boyfriend). And again, she wasn’t really trying to be cruel: She needed clothing and food (both of which I would have provided, if she had asked). It wasn’t malicious. Dumb, but not malcious.

              Since you of this…how the hell can you claim “its not your fault?” Weird

              Also, since SHE is the one who did the stealing, how can you claim it was MY fault? Weird.

              Seriously, stop being an ass.

            • HogwartsAlum says:

              @LegoMan322:

              Because she doesn’t have any control over what someone else does. Nobody does.

              OH CRAP! I just dropped a rock on your foot. Your fault because you were standing in front of me being a dick when I had a rock in my hand.

              • nakedscience says:

                @HogwartsAlum: Besides, if someone did something dumb and illegal at 15 or 16, don’t you think that, by 22 years of age, we should be able to forget, forgive, and move on? Clearly, people can’t make mistakes and grow up! Clearly, they will always be fuck ups!

                And, really, at the time it sucked and I was pissed, but she and I talked about it, and I’ve since forgiven her. It kind of worked out, because had I “loaned” her the money to buy clothes and food (which she needed), I never would have seen it again. At least the bank gave it back! (It was not a fun process though, lemme tell ya.)

                I likely won’t let her stay with me for some time, not until she’s completely healed, but she’s on her way.

                When she’s 35 and grown and no longer making such mistakes, I hope I can forgive and forget, instead of saying, “tsk, tsk, when you were 22 you did this, so clearly I can never, ever trust you ever, ever again!”

                • nakedscience says:

                  @nakedscience: (It turned out she was desperate, and because I was pissed and kicking her out because of her creepy boyfriend, she thought I wouldn’t help her, but I would have taken her to goodwill and the grocery store. If she had went to Best Buy and bought a huge tv or something ridiculous, I wouldn’t have been nearly as forgiving.)

                • HogwartsAlum says:

                  @nakedscience:

                  Welllllll…

                  Some people NEVER stop. It’s in their thinking patterns; it doesn’t have a lot to do with age or even maturity. Just be aware that she might never get out of that kind of thinking. And never loan her any more than you can afford to lose.

                  It’s really nice that you forgave her, though.

              • LegoMan322 says:

                @HogwartsAlum: If you know what the person is capable of doing…and have 1st hand knowledge of what they do wrong….of course you have control.

    • sponica says:

      @Jonbo298: i have checks for an important reason…to get a bank check costs money and I’m cheap. Plus, I can use the cancelled check as proof when one of my roommates says I didn’t pay her the portion of the phone/cable/etc bill.

  5. silver-spork says:

    I recently had this argument with Orkin, which recently abandoned Saturday scheduled service and promotes two options: a) keybox on the door or b) giving a key to their central office.

    I explained that I don’t let people work in the house unsupervised unless it’s absolutely necessary (contractors doing a multi-day job) and no one gets keys. Even with contractors, I meet the supervisor and get names, insurance policies, and other information that would help me track down potential thieves.

    Orkin keeps pressing the issue, and I’m about to switch to another vendor.

    • nakedscience says:

      @silver-spork: Ugh, I’d never give some random people a copy of my key! Crazy.

    • BrazDane says:

      @silver-spork: I don’t like giving out keys either, because even if you get it back, you never know if it was copied.

      Recently an electrician had to do a job at our house and would not hear of any other method than having a key. I then went and got the old doorknob and key that used to be on the side door when we moved into our house and installed that. After he was done I switched back to our usual doorknob and keys. We then made sure to be home when he was working, even though we trusted him.

      The doorknob exchange doesn’t solve the theft problem while someone works in your house, but it does provide some relief afterwards, knowing that even if the key was copied, it is useless.

      • LegoMan322 says:

        @BrazDane: Actually I thought your doorknob idea was really good. Great idea.

        • Firethorn says:

          @LegoMan322: You can even get ‘kwickset’ locks today that with a tool you can rekey your locks.

          Exact procedure is in the instructions, but it’s something like you insert the current key, turn it 1/4 turn, insert the tool, remove tool & key and insert new key, then turn the key back – Lock is now set to new key.

          Another option would be one of the code locks that you can program with multiple codes – only enable the ‘bug guy’ code when you’re expecting him.

          Or even a biometric one – require that you meet each new worker, and remove the old one when they leave.

          • SadSam says:

            @Firethorn:

            We use the lock/door knob switcheroo for all our investment properties. Any time a new tenant moves in the locks get switched out for new sets, then we (and by we I mean Mr. Sam) any time work is done in the house we switch the old locks in and then when the work is completed switch the new locks back. At this point, we have several sets of locks to use.

            For our primary home we don’t authorize anyone to enter our home when we are not there except for our pet sitter and she is bonded and insured (with proof required directly from the insurance company each year).

      • catastrophegirl chooses not to fly says:

        @BrazDane: anyone who insisted on having a key to my house [except a pet sitter] wouldn’t be getting the job.

        good idea with the doorknob though. after my last bad roommate, i had to learn to re-key a deadbolt. it’s not at all difficult, but the pins are expensive if you don’t happen to have a set lying around or you didn’t save them out of old locks.

        now i can rekey some styles of schlage deadbolts to my sister’s garage door if i ever need to temporarily change a lock. [actually, my new house-to-be is going to be permanently rekeyed to match her lock which is good for emergencies and if i ever need to temporarily change the locks, i can use the pins i’ll be taking out to switch it back]
        but a whole doorknob would be a lot easier than rekeying a deadbolt.

    • kathyl says:

      @silver-spork: Oh, HECK no! There’s no way I’d dream of giving Orkin or any other company access at will to my home. Are they INSANE?

      • the_wiggle says:

        @kathyl: as insane as our old landlords who “overlooked” telling the tenants that the former maintenance guy took the master keys for all the apartments with him and DIDN’T re-key everyone’s locks.

  6. hypnotik_jello says:

    @
    pecan 3.14159265: How about a safe hidden in a closet which is bolted down and uses an electronic keypad lock? It’s not foolproof but it helps. Also, helps to hire from a company who uses licensed and bonded employees.

    • nakedscience says:

      @hypnotik_jello: And don’t keep the keys to the safe on the same key ring that hangs in your kitchen. That’s kind of dumb, imo, and basically makes your safe useless.

    • edwardso says:

      @hypnotik_jello: @pecan 3.14159265: One of those safes that looks like a can of Dr. Pepper or shaving cream? Of course if they get thirsty or were running late and needed to shave you’d be screwed :)

    • Ragman says:

      @hypnotik_jello: That’s what home security people recommend. Part of what’s called 5 minute proofing your home. As long as they don’t dig in your closet, they won’t know if you have a safe.

      Our maids are paid via single use CC number, so they don’t handle checks, and I lock up the checkbook (and computer) on the days they clean.

  7. jamesdenver says:

    i haven’t used a handwritten check in years. My bank allows me to fill in the payee info online and have it sent to them.

    • nakedscience says:

      @jamesdenver: I have to write checks for rent, as my apartment complex doesn’t do online payments or anything. That’s the ONLY reason I use checks. Well … and when I forget my debit card in the ATM, which happens occasionally.

      When I move, I’m hoping the new pad takes online payments. That would be rad.

      • edwardso says:

        @nakedscience: I have wachovia send my landlord a paper check. That way i don’t have to order checks or get stuck in a conversation

      • jamesdenver says:

        @nakedscience:

        Actually I didn’t mean paying online – i meant my bank actually MAILS out the checks.

        My HOA is the same way – only takes checks. But I have it automatically mailed out on the 1st, and it’s in his mailbox by the 6th. Actually the person is right next door to me, but then I don’t have to remember to write one, drop it in his box, – have it get blown away.

        It’s just mailed to him like any other check. I think it’s pretty cool.

        • nakedscience says:

          @jamesdenver: I wonder if BofA does that?

          • Cocoa Vanilla says:

            @nakedscience: BoA has a Bill Pay feature which appears to be free for unlimited payments.

            • nakedscience says:

              @Cocoa Vanilla: Interesting!

              Still, as I said, I sometimes hand them the check THE DAY it’s due, so it wouldn’t always be helpful.

              • Etoiles says:

                @nakedscience: I use the BoA online bill pay service. I’ve only had one incident in four years of the check not arriving on the day I specified (and in that case, it was a day early). Most months, in the middle of the month I tell them to have a check arrive at my landlord’s on the first of the next month and so far it’s always been good. :)

          • bwcbwc says:

            @nakedscience: Their billpay service will mail a physical check if they don’t have the routing for an EFT in their database.

      • kexline says:

        @nakedscience: Is there some reason your apartment complex doesn’t accept machine-generated checks? I pay rent to a sole proprietor who’s about 3,000 years old. Years ago, I used my bank’s online billpay to schedule a payment for the 30th of each month. The bank sends a physical check to the landlord’s P.O. box, and a jpeg of the cancelled check usually shows up in my transaction list by the 5th. (Bonus benefit: I keep an eye on the signature — as long as the checks come back with his signature in pen, I know my landlord hasn’t croaked. The day it changes, I start packing.)

        I pay my catsitter and yard service the same way. Nobody balks.

        • edwardso says:

          @kexline: for some reason my bank stopped putting the cancelled check online. Now it shows up as an auto debit.

        • nakedscience says:

          @kexline: It’s *possible* they do, I just wasn’t aware of it (I thought they were saying they pay online; I didn’t realize the bank sends out an actual check).

          My only problem is that I tend to pay rent on the very last day it’s due (ie it’s not late ’til after the 5th, so I hand them my check on the 5th), because I get paid weekly, which is nice, but sometimes I don’t have all the funds available on the 1st.

      • LegoMan322 says:

        @nakedscience: If you decide to use ING…they will send a paper check for you. It’s a really nice service.

      • Rectilinear Propagation says:

        @nakedscience: I’ve only lost my card twice (once misplaced and once left in someone’s car) but I also still keep checks around just in case.

        I’ve also paid medical bills by check when the doctor or whomever didn’t take cards and I didn’t feel like entering them into bill pay for a one time payment.

  8. floraposte says:

    Aren’t these the kind of people who tend to get paid by check as well? So they’d have the same information either way.

    • TheBusDriver says:

      @floraposte: c’mon, with that kind of logic the tin foil hats have nothing to worry about. Don’t ruin their fun.

      • nakedscience says:

        @TheBusDriver: …You’re saying that we shouldn’t take precautious when we have strangers in our homes? That we’re “paranoid” and wear “tin foil hats” because we don’t trust strangers around our personal identification, information, and items? No. I’m tired of people telling us we’re paranoid just because we don’t trust strangers around our personal items!

        For the record, if someone stole your CHECKBOOK, they suddenly have TONS OF BLANK CHECKS, not just one check you wrote and signed. It’s different and can cause a LOT more problems.

        Like that time my sister stole my checkbook and ID, and used it.

        If you can’t trust family, why trust complete strangers?

        I’m not paranoid and I don’t wear a tinfoil hat. I’d just rather not have to go through that crap again.

        • Dennis says:

          @nakedscience: I think floraposte and TheBusDriver were making a point in regards to the OP (which now seems to have been changed):

          “With that, they’ve usually got your name, address, and definitely your bank account and routing number, all of which they can use to open up new accounts in your name and go on a spending spree, leaving you hanging with the charges.”

          I think we can all agree check fraud is a serious crime, and it’s important to safeguard blank checks. No one would want to deal with that.

          • Princess Leela says:

            @Dennis: But that would suggest that anybody you ever pay with a check has the power to turn around and use the info that appears on said check to commit identity theft.

            I’m pretty sure that’s not the case. Which is maybe why the OP was changed.

          • nakedscience says:

            @Dennis: Except by the time they had made these comments, the post had been long edited.

        • sanjsrik says:

          @nakedscience:

          yes, to all of them.

          you’re paranoid and delusional

          Again, get an online bank account, and don’t ask for checks.

          You can do everything you could do with checks with a bank ATM card.

          • nakedscience says:

            @sanjsrik: “with a bank ATM card. “

            Also, tell that to my apartment complex who only accept checks and money orders. It’s possible I can send in a check via my bank, but sometimes I need to pay the day rent is due, so there is no time.

            So should I just … hand them a debit card and tell them to take it magically?

          • HogwartsAlum says:

            @sanjsrik:

            Not always.

            Some places don’t have those card reader thingys. Some older people like landlords and stuff like in kexline’s post above don’t take anything BUT checks. I personally like to mail them to my mortgage and car insurance companies, because their websites are a pain in the ass.

            Grow up and stop assuming stuff.

            • nakedscience says:

              @HogwartsAlum: Also, I have an old credit card that I’m in the process of paying off. It’s a crappy card that I used for emergencies (dentist stuff is actually what I’m trying to pay off now). Sure, they take online credit card payments. At a $9.95 fee a pop.

              Screw that. I send a check. (It’s almost paid off, yay!)

          • Rectilinear Propagation says:

            You can do everything you could do with checks with a bank ATM card.

            @sanjsrik:

            What? No you can’t. The only think you can do with an ATM card is withdraw money from ATMs. I don’t think you want to try to send cash in the mail.

          • nakedscience says:

            @snjsrk: …Smtms chcks r ndd. Y’r nt vryn. Nt vryn hs th sm ccss t bnks s y d. (Lk my hm twn: VRY lmtd n lcl bnk brnchs.) Sm ppl LK CHCKS *Gsp*!!!!!

            ‘m nt prnd nd dlsnl, y’r n dt nd n sshl.

  9. temporaryerror says:

    I’m guessing that the situation they are talking about is just check fraud, rather than full fledged ID theft.

  10. kduhtoe says:

    My girlfriend (from Sweden) had never seen a personal check before she moved here. Most Scandinavian (and some European) countries stopped using checks a long time ago. Why are we hanging on to these things?

    • Saboth says:

      @kduhtoe:

      I wonder that myself every time I go to the supermarket, and inevitably, there is a 50 year old woman in front of me slowly writing out a check while we all wait for this antiquated process to finish. Either use cash, debit or credit card. Checks have got to go.

      • nakedscience says:

        @Saboth: Then tell older apartment complexes to accept payments online. Mine only accepts checks & money orders.

        • pecan 3.14159265 says:

          @nakedscience: All of mine accept checks…they charge a fee for credit card transactions because they get dinged with a fee for them.

          • nakedscience says:

            @pecan 3.14159265: And then there is this. People are like “You can use ATMS/Credit cards/debit cards for EVERYTHING!”

            Yeah, except people like to charge fees for debit/credit card useage.

            • kduhtoe says:

              @nakedscience: Yeah, fees suck. Most of the Scandinavian countries use a shared system which can be used to transfer money between people, businesses, etc. No fees, no problems. I’m sure some of you would think this would lead to more problems with identity theft/fraud. I’m not sure about the specifics of the system, but she has a small digital keychain device. When prompted while logging in, a button is pressed and the device generates a random number which is entered with her login and password. Seems pretty solid.

          • Rectilinear Propagation says:

            @pecan 3.14159265: Yep. The apartment complex I live at charges $20 to pay by card.

            Checks are cheaper. I’m using billpay to pay them but they’re still getting a check.

    • militarydave says:

      @kduhtoe: You have a Sweedish Girlfriend? you lucky @#$%! -dave

    • sponica says:

      @kduhtoe: bc my landlord doesn’t process credit cards. Well back when I was a renter, and now I’m a moocher. But if I were to give my mom money (and more importantly when she gives ME money) I prefer a check to the piles of cash that her bf gives me when I pay the grocery bill or something.
      Plus when I receive graduation checks through the mail from relatives in large amounts, we all feel safer with a check.

  11. Cant_stop_the_rock says:

    I have shocking and unsettling news for you guys. All of that information that they can get out of your checkbook… is on every single check you write! If you pay those service personnel with a check, it doesn’t make much difference how safely you secure your checkbook.

    • bwcbwc says:

      @Cant_stop_the_rock: Most service personnel seem to prefer cash for some reason…But yeah, that’s the aspect that makes me think that this is straight check fraud. You can do quite a bit more with a blank check than with just the routing information (and signature) on a filled-in check.

  12. William Brinkman says:

    People still use checks. That’s cute. I love when old people use them to pay for things and they steal 3 minutes of my life as I wait.

    I also have checks, but those are for… umm…. I guess I would use them if my wallet was stolen!

  13. mattbramanti says:

    Kwikset makes a lock where you can change the key in about 10 seconds. Insert old key, insert special tool, insert new key.

    That way it’s easy to reset the lock and give a repair guy or whoever the key. When you get back, set the lock back to its original setting and you’re fine, even if the guy did make a copy.

  14. AcceleratedDragon says:

    Electricians need to steal? They make great money…I guess it’s a crime of opportunity.

  15. militarydave says:

    usually Maids and cleaning services have references they have for those who are skeptical when hiring/keeping them. I think most of this is making more people paranoid, when really common sense needs to kick in. of course keep all your personal and “confidential” information safeguarded. dont just leave the checks next to the toilet seat or kitchen.

    i dont blame the maids, i blame the people who are basically giving people all their info. that’s the problem with the “social” websites. any teenager can give ALL their info online, or even in pictures (like a car showing plate #’s), how old they are, where they work, how much they make etc. Date of birth, phone numbers… might as well give your SSN and post it online on myspace of facebook and let the whole world see.

    thats like me saying: Dave is on vacation for a week, so bulglars: have at it. you know my house, the type of car i drive and who i live with via my pictures… so knock yourself out. then i’ll repost my status as “pissed” cuz i got jacked, even though it was my own fault for giving all that info out!

    • nakedscience says:

      @militarydave: Why is there anything wrong with being “paranoid” (I’d call it extra-cautious) when it comes to your identity? I don’t get this, “LOL, stop being paranoid, just leave your checkbook lying around!” attitude a few of you have.

      Identity theft is serious.

      i dont blame the maids, i blame the people who are basically giving people all their info.

      Yes, because clearly, when a maid steals your checkbook, it’s the fault of social media!

      any teenager can give ALL their info online, or even in pictures (like a car showing plate #’s), how old they are, where they work, how much they make etc. Date of birth, phone numbers…

      Isn’t most of this generally public info, anyway?

      • militarydave says:

        @nakedscience: it shouldn’t be. unless you’re personally giving all that info out. in general what should be listed is a name, address and phone number in the phone book. that’s it. not DOB, date of divorce, make/model/year of car(s), etc.

        essentially its making it easier for those identity theives to get that info. i’m not saying to NOT Be paranoid, ID theft is a serious crime that can happen to anyone but use common sense with personal info with srangers, buying online, and hell… even at an ATM. you’ve seen the posts here on Consumerist about the ATM scanners.

        -dave

        • nakedscience says:

          @militarydave: My phone # and address is listed, and I’m pretty sure you can get it via my IP address. DOB is common knowledge and not something you should be afraid to devulge. If people know I’m 27 and my birthday is August 9, they can figure out my birthday. They can also access public information that has my DOB. Like court records (that I don’t have, but many people do).

    • HogwartsAlum says:

      @militarydave:

      What?

      A maid steals something and it’s not his/her fault? In what universe is it not someone’s fault if they STEAL something?

      Although you have a valid point about giving too much information on the Internet, that’s not what this is about. It’s about someone in your house, physically putting their hands on your stuff. How does something you left lying around at home get on the Internet? Magic?

    • David Brodbeck says:

      @militarydave: I don’t really understand why people are afraid of people online seeing their license plate numbers. Is there a even a way to look up a plate number if you’re not a police officer?

      • nakedscience says:

        @HogwartsAlum: “A maid steals something and it’s not his/her fault? In what universe is it not someone’s fault if they STEAL something?”

        Just ask Legoman upthread. It is “completely my fault” that my sister stole my checkbook and used it.

  16. jamesdenver says:

    Yeah I’ve thought the same thing watching people write checks in the checkout line.

    What possible benefit do Checks provide that a Debit card doesn’t???

    • edwardso says:

      @jamesdenver: carbon copies that are niced bound and kept together? I don’t usually use checks, but I don’t really care if other people choose to.

    • JulesNoctambule says:

      @jamesdenver: At our local farmer’s market, you can pay for things with cash or with checks. You cannot pay for things with a debit card.

    • nakedscience says:

      @jamesdenver: 1)Not everyone accepts credit cards. 2)Some people like checks. 3)Sometimes I lose my debit card, and they come in handy.

      And, really, people need to become less impatient. A few seconds while someone writes a check is not a lifetime, really. And your life is no more important than theres, really.

    • halothane says:

      @jamesdenver: I don’t think my condo association would like it too much if I mailed them my debit card.

  17. juri squared says:

    Also of note: watch your roommates if they are less than trustworthy. My husband’s freshman dorm roommate did this.

    Of course, said roommate was too stupid to even spell the forged name correctly. You know, the name PRINTED ON THE CHECK. It was pretty easy to contest that check.

  18. Whitney Robinson says:

    Working in a fraud dept. at a bank, I can verify this- one thing that’s actually made me quite sick lately, that’s been on the rise- people in nursing homes.

    Nurses, caretakers, it doesn’t seem to matter that the person they’re taking care of needs to be taken care of… elderly care fraud is on the rise, and it’s disgusting to me. If you have anyone taking care of your loved ones, make sure that they don’t have access to that kind of sensitive information/documentation.

  19. Nighthawke says:

    I used to work freelance in IT, doing house calls and customers would call me up, asking for service.
    First thing I would ask “is there going to be someone there at the residence?” If no, then I would go on and say “Liability prevents me from entering anyone’s home without someone present. What would be a good time when you are at home?”

    I was very flexible in scheduling appointments.

  20. GuyNermit says:

    This really doesn’t make any sense.

    If your maid is going to steal from you, wouldn’t they also take your jewelry, laptop, ipod, iphone, TV etc etc etc???? Do you lock all your possessions in your safe in your closet when you leave your house?

    Also, your maid is the person least likely to steal from you. They’d lose their livelihood and all their customers instantly and forever if anyone suspected their honestly. Most get customers by word of mouth, you know.

    Your relatives, spouse, kids, or sketchy friends are much more likely suspects if something’s missing.

    • floraposte says:

      @GuyNermit: I think that you’re right that that’s the kind of job that’s suspected considerably more often than it’s actually at fault. But especially in service personnel working for a system or a company, there’s a lot of anonymity and a lot of turnover; it’s not the same person-to-person relationship as a direct hire, and theft is therefore much less trackable and, I suspect, more psychologically justifiable. Then add the fact, as noted upthread, that the elderly and the infirm are going to need more in-home help and are more vulnerable to this kind of crime. So I don’t think it’s as unlikely as you do, either.

      • krista says:

        @GuyNermit: Taking a couple of checks from the back of a checkbook might not be noticed for weeks or longer. By the time you noticed, it might be very hard to figure out who took them or when.

    • sponica says:

      @GuyNermit: my aunts maid definitely stole 200 bucks from my purse unless I was a flake and accidentally threw it away (not beyond the realm of possibility). i guess that’s what i get for having 200 bucks in my purse (my pop liked to hand me 50s and 100 dollar bills and I was in the process of moving, therefore living rent free in my aunt and uncle’s house while transitioning and opening up a THIRD bank account seemed like a hassle)

  21. WelcomeToMyWorld says:

    I was a victim of check stealing once, a long time ago. Not only were my checks taken and used by a supposed “friend” – but there was also collusion by the person who CASHED the checks.

    The person who cashes checks, or accepts them for payment, is almost as guilty as the check-writer. They are supposed to know or verify the identity of the person who passed the check. Do not accept a check from anyone you don’t know, unless they can show verifiable ID. (Photo ID is even better.)

    • nakedscience says:

      @Harry Pothead: Verifiable ID is great … unless they steal your ID, too! Yay for sisters that look an awful lot like you stealing your checkbook and ID.

  22. oneandone says:

    My apartment building has been having trouble with a leaky AC, and maintenance people have been over a few times; the first time, I happened to be there and decided to hang out instead of going out to do errands like I planned. After that, though, no one’s been home, and it wouldn’t have been difficult for someone to walk off with a laptop – or the TV. I’ve had good interactions with everyone who works in the building, but it’s a little disconcerting to have to trust the landlord to screen people for me.

    There’s probably a tenant’s right where I could prohibit people from entering, but it’s more important to me to get the AC fixed. Hopefully everything will continue to go well.

    • David Brodbeck says:

      @oneandone: Where I live, at least, they have to ask you for permission to enter your apartment if you’re not home. “Do they have permission to enter?” is always the first question out of the secretary’s mouth when I ask to have something fixed.

  23. Savannah Kraemer says:

    I’ve never understood how someone could think it’s a good idea to allow a stranger to wander about your home without your supervision. Then again, I’ve never been in the position where hiring someone to clean for me is an option.

    • David Brodbeck says:

      @Savannah Kraemer: I kind of figure anyone who’s too proud to clean their own toilet probably has some personality defects.

      • floraposte says:

        @David Brodbeck: Could be true, but I think most of us fortunate enough to have assistance aren’t doing so out of pride, any more than people who buy takeout are too proud to use their own ovens or people with babysitters are too proud to care for their own children. I get that it can seem weird if you don’t do it, but for me it’s been an incredible help.

      • nakedscience says:

        @David Brodbeck: er, what? My friends have a maid because their house is huge and it’s just easier for them. They also have five cats and a dog. The maid comes once every two weeks. They still do the day-to-day cleaning. Most people who hire maids don’t have them over every day.

  24. clickertrainer says:

    My friend says the maid can rob her blind as long as she leaves the house nice and clean.

  25. wvFrugan says:

    A couple of my more promising foster kids have enjoyed a trip in my checkbook. One used the account numbers to buy online porn. The other took a check which he wrote payable to himself & had his grandmother cash it for $300.00 at her bank. The former is now all grown up and a porn star while the former is in custody of the federal marshalls. I’ve always refused to hide my wallet & stuff, so thus these temptations sometimes become learning opportunities for them. As best I know, my cat has not gotten into my checkbook yet, other than for his GD vet care & kibbles.

  26. Black-Cat says:

    Bitch betta have my money! Ha! I just wanted to say it!