Financial fraud can come in many forms. It may be stolen credit card or checking account information, or even scams designed to dupe a victim into providing credit information or even cash to thieves unwittingly.
If you think your credit card or checking account information has been compromised contact your bank immediately. You may have to provide documentation or sign affidavits of forgery depending on the circumstances. You may also need to contact your local law enforcement agency and report the crime to them to document the incident.
You should watch your monthly statements very carefully, and pay close attention to unusual charges. One recent local case involved a thief accessing a checking account. He actually used two very small charges on the account as a test to see if the charge would clear without detection. He waited a couple of months to see if law enforcement came looking for him. We didn't, because although the account holder had noticed the charge, she thought it might have been something her husband had ordered, and because it was a small amount she never got around to asking him about it.
After the thief was sure the charge had gone undetected, he suddenly used the stolen information to run up over $10,000 in charges in one day. The thief was actually only a teenager, and was caught and prosecuted. The account holder was not held responsible for those charges, but the case certainly caused the victim a lot of aggravation.
You should also periodically check your own credit report to see if suspicious activity is showing up there. Very often it will, and it can be very difficult to get cleared up. We've had reports involving this type of crime, usually referred to as finiancial identity fraud, where the victim only found out about the activity when bad things showed up on a credit report in the middle of their attempt to purchase a house. That was not a good time to find out that kind of information because it could easily have been too late to get it corrected before it caused the victim some serious problems.