Family member stole money from bank account [what to do]

It can be a difficult and sentimental ordeal coping with a family member who stole money from bank account. And since trust is crucial in family relationships, a breach of trust can cause feelings of betrayal, hurt, and uncertainty about how to move forward after the experience.

That said, in this article, I discuss the necessary steps you can take to address the situation. I have covered both legal and emotional aspects.


What to do if a family member stole money from bank account

family member stole money from bank account

Depending on the amount of money in question, you probably want it back at all costs. I get it that you, perhaps, won’t think twice about taking legal action against that family member. That’s OK.


Below is how you should deal with the situation if a family member stole money from bank account:

1. Verify the incidence

You just have to be sure you are not wrongly accusing the person, especially if they keep denying it.

Confirming the theft by your family member is important. You want to collect proof by examining your bank statements, withdrawal slips, and other pertinent records. I also advise you to contact your bank to inquire about details related to the unauthorized transaction such as withdrawal date, time, and location.

If possible, gather evidence such as security footage or eyewitness testimony to back up your claim.


2. Confront the family member

It doesn’t mean you should pick up a fight. I get it, a family member stole money from bank account but when confronting the person involved after gathering enough evidence to support your suspicions, you need to be coolheaded.

Maintain a calm and rational approach during this conversation, as it can be emotionally charged for you and the suspect. Try to explain the discovered facts regarding the missing funds. Understand that their response can guide your next steps by revealing their motivations and intentions.

3. Consider consulting a professional for assistance

Involve a professional, which could be a therapist or counselor, to encourage the family member to admit to theft and expresses remorse. A mediator can guide on addressing underlying issues such as addiction, financial stress, or mental health problems that led to theft. Perhaps, if you are able to address the root causes, it could be possible to prevent similar situations and rebuild trust with the family member who stole your money.

4. Evaluate the monetary consequences

Assess the financial loss resulting from the theft. Determine if the stolen amount of money has affected your financial stability and take measures to reduce the impact (if necessary).

You may need to modify your budget, reduce spending, or explore some other ways to earn more money to cover the loss. I recommend consulting a financial advisor to create a financial recovery plan for you.

5. Decide on a suitable plan of action

Your actions may vary depending on the situation and your relationship with the family member. If the person shows remorse and repays the stolen funds, you may choose to forgive and rebuild trust. Forgiveness does not mean forgetting, according to the Mayor Clinic, and it helps you to set distinct boundaries and expectations for the future.

Otherwise, notify law enforcement immediately of the incident and urge them to open an investigation without delay for you to get your money back. Law enforcement officials are better equipped to work through any obstacles posed by the bank and can do so with greater speed and ease than you can. However, they must ascertain whether your family member was authorized to access the account or if he or she resorted to fraudulent or forged means to do so. In the event of forgery, it may be necessary for a felony warrant to be issued for their arrest.

Let’s say your family member stole money from bank account but their attitude is not that of regrets, you can consider a civil lawsuit to recover your money. Seek legal advice from a lawyer to explore options and evaluate the advantages and disadvantages of pursuing legal proceedings. Only if it is determined that no crime has been committed, and law enforcement is unable to help, should you consider seeking the assistance of a private attorney. Make sure you prioritize time in this situation and involve law enforcement as soon as possible to uncover what happened to your money. Once law enforcement is involved, you can then make an informed decision about whether to retain a private attorney or not.

You can report the theft to the police and press charges based on the amount of money stolen and the actions of the family member. This decision can be tough due to potential consequences like imprisonment for the family member. So, just consult a lawyer and consider the possible consequences before taking action.

6. Protect yourself against a future reoccurrence

It just happened and can happen again, so safeguard against future thefts, no matter what action you take. Take into account subsequent actions such as changing all your account details such as password and security questions. Consider activating 2FA if possible to strengthen bank account security.

You might want to use this period to review your bank statements and account activity to detect any suspicious transactions promptly.

Also, restrict access to your banking information by limiting the number of people who have access to login credentials, account numbers, and ATM cards. If you run a joint account that involves the family member, consider closing it or removing them as a joint owner.

Lastly, contact your bank to add security measures like verbal confirmation for large withdrawals or device access restrictions.

7. Try to reconnect with the family member

Recovery after a family member stole money from bank account can be time-consuming, and restoring trust within the family will typically require a gradual and slow approach. I advise that you maintain open communication and be patient when dealing with the relative.

Try to be open to change and forgiveness, and recognize that people can change and heal. It is okay if you no longer trust the family member without evidence of their personal growth and commitment to change but just forgive.

Read also: live poor, save more

Ultimately, show empathy toward the family member who stole money from you, irrespective of the difficulty.

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