Answer by John Burnett:
I believe that you are free to attempt a negotiated settlement of this claim, regardless of the circumstances, if your bank and the claimant are the only parties involved. However, if there are other parties who have also endorsed the check between your bank and the claimant, getting everyone on board might be a challenge. Each of those endorsers is "on the hook" for possible liability on the forgery.
Answer by Barbara Hurst:
The key to your question, to me, is the fact that this is not a large amount. Keep in mind it may cost you more in time and labor to fight it than to pay it. Of course, before you entertain the claim at all, ask to see a copy of the police report that names the sister as a suspect, and get assurance that your customer will assist you in prosecution. Without those two pieces of documentation, you can't even CONSIDER the claim, can you?
First published on BankersOnline.com 07/14/03