smart spending

6 common but illegal money habits that can get you in big trouble

Signing someone else's name on a check
Signing someone else's name on a check © JJ Studio/Shutterstock.com

Signing someone else's name on a check

Signing a check in another person's name is generally considered forgery and would violate the law in most states, warns Carol Kaplan, a former spokeswoman for the American Bankers Association in Washington, D.C.

But suppose an adult child signs an elderly parent's name because the parent is incapacitated, or a parent signs a child's name because the kid is away at college. Guess what? Those signatures are still forgeries, unless a power of attorney is in effect.

"In most cases, it's on behalf of a loved one who probably isn't going to object, but people should know that that's forgery," says Kaplan, who's now with the National Insurance Crime Bureau.

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