Money Grouse: Cheque victim bounces back

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The Independent Online
Michael Zeffertt, managing director of the Portsmouth army surplus store Robert Mack, has a salutary lesson for retailers.

Over the past year he has noticed an increasing tendency for banks to bounce cheques with the message: 'Cheque book reported stolen - signature differs.'

Mr Zeffertt is a former banker and an Associate of the Chartered Institute of Bankers and had therefore been diligent in training staff to spot possible fraud.

He concluded that some customers had been falsely reporting their cards and cheque books stolen and had then embarked on a spending spree.

He decided to challenge the banks concerned and, out of the six cases he took up, five reversed their original decision to bounce the cheques.

The amount of money retrieved in this way amounts to a few hundred pounds, but he has had to spend a considerable amount of time and effort.

He said: 'In the first instance the bank concerned may attempt to dispute the facts or ask to be given time to investigate without commitment.

'In a number of cases I billed the bank for out-of- pocket expenses, together with a charge for my time at a rate of pounds 25 per hour plus VAT.'

One case concerned the TSB in New Street, St Helier, Jersey. It bounced a cheque for pounds 60. Mr Zeffertt challenged this and the bank honoured the cheque.

Mr Zeffertt went on to claim expenses of pounds 31 for his time in pursuing the matter. He issued proceedings in the county court and the bank paid the full pounds 31.

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