As a journalist, I’m skeptical of everything and everyone. That habit does not always carry over into my personal life or in my business dealings with people.

I tend to trust people in personal and business situations and that tendency has a habit of coming back to bite me in the ass.

Case in point: A longtime client in Northern Virginia, someone I’ve done business with for some 20 years, recently paid an overdue bill with a bum check. We’re talking a large one with five numbers in front of the decimal point. It came back marked “contact issuer.”

I tried. The business’s phone was disconnected with no forwarding number. So my bank contacted their bank to see if the check could be redeposited. No, the other bank said. The account was frozen. Something about liens from the Internal Revenue Service.

So I called my lawyer in Washington. He discovered the company filed Chapter 7 bankruptcy on the same day they sent me the bum check. Chapter 7 means liquidation.

This all happened last week. I spent the weekend transferring money around to keep my various bank accounts current.

After a long conference call this week, my attorney filed papers that means, basically, that I’m in a long line with other “unsecured creditors” to try and get my money.

I had no idea the company was in trouble. I advanced money on their behalf, paid subcontractors for the work my company did for them and budgeted the year based on projected income from them.

My business relationships have always been built on trust. When that trust is betrayed, it makes it more difficult to be as trusting the next time.