Fraud

18 Sep Fraud

ASK A LAWYER
Question: My son signed my name on some checks to pay for his rent without my permission. How can I get my money back?
As a practical matter, the first thing you might want to consider doing is contacting your bank to let them know about the situation. If the bank is able to stop payment on the check, this will be much easier than trying to collect the money from your son once it has already been paid out. If you only found out about the fraudulent charge because it was already deducted from your bank account, then you should still consider contacting your bank. Oftentimes, banks have a fraud protection program through which the bank will reimburse fraudulent charges up to a certain amount.
There are two avenues through which you might be able to collect your money through the justice system: (1) a civil suit in general sessions court; (2) a criminal prosecution for forgery and theft.
Citizens are able to initiate civil suits in general sessions court, by filling out a civil warrant document contained here: https://circuitclerk.nashville.gov/…/formses_prosecivil5d.p… and filing it with the general sessions civil clerk’s office (located on the second floor of the Birch Building—Criminal Courthouse). You have to pay a filing fee of $113.75 in order to file suit.
The other possible avenue for recovering the money is to pursue the matter criminally. In order to do so, you would have to call the non-emergency Metro Nashville Police Department phone number, 615-862-8600. The police department will oftentimes take reports over the phone, but may choose to send an officer to your home for a personal interview. The officer can instruct you on how to proceed with prosecution. Under Tennessee law, these facts constitute both a forgery (fraudulently signing a check without permission) and theft (if the check was successfully cashed such that you are out of the money). Forgery is always a felony offense, and thefts over the amount of $500 are felony offenses as well. Typically, the Davidson County District Attorney’s Office will attempt to get victims of crime (you) restitution (reimbursement for what was stolen) as part of the resolution of the criminal case. There is no fee associated with making a police report or pursuing criminal prosecution.
Rachel owns and runs the Law Office of Rachel Thomas PLC, located at 114 30th Avenue South, where she focuses on representing persons accused of committing crimes as well as those dealing with family law issues (divorce or child support/custody). You can find additional legal information on Rachel’s website’s News/Blog page (www.rachelthomaslaw.com). Her contact information is rachelthomas@rachelthomaslaw.com or (615) 645-9596.
The information in “Ask A Lawyer” is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. Reading this column does not create an attorney-client relationship between you and Attorney Thomas. You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your individual situation.