I just received my account statement and noticed there were forged checks. When I notified the bank, it claimed the forgeries were due to my negligence. What can I do?
You should review your deposit account agreement for any applicable language. Generally, the bank will require you to complete an affidavit stating that you did not authorize the check. It may also request that you file a police report. If you have an account with multiple forgeries (for example, stolen checks), you should consider closing the account.
Banks are generally required to reimburse customers for forged checks. However, based on individual circumstances, a bank can investigate to determine if the customer is entitled to a reimbursement.
Generally, a bank is liable for accepting a check that has been forged, altered, or improperly endorsed. However, the bank may not be liable if
- it accepted the check in good faith, and
- the customer's failure to exercise ordinary care substantially contributed to an alteration or forgery.
If your actions—the way the check or checkbook was handled, issued, completed, or made payable—contributed to the making of the forgery, you may be at least partially liable. However, even if you were negligent, the bank may still be required to reimburse you if you can show that the bank failed to exercise ordinary care in handling the check.
Contact the bank immediately if you believe there is an error on your statement, as there are required timeframes for notifying the bank of an error. If your bank is a national bank or federal savings association, and you are unable to resolve the issue with the bank, file a written complaint with the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency's (OCC) Customer Assistance Group.
If your bank is not a national bank or federal savings association, you should file a complaint with the appropriate regulator.
Last Reviewed: October 2020
Please note: The terms "bank" and "banks" used in these answers generally refer to national banks, federal savings associations, and federal branches or agencies of foreign banking organizations that are regulated by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC). Find out if the OCC regulates your bank. Information provided on HelpWithMyBank.gov should not be construed as legal advice or a legal opinion of the OCC.