North Brookfield Savings Bank Recommends Ways to Avoid Fake Check Scams
Check scams are gaining in popularity and are more increasingly difficult to detect. There are many variations of the “fake check scam”, but the common link between all of them is a stranger proposing to send the victim a check and have the victim wire money in return. The stranger may be someone offering to buy something you advertised for sale, may be offering to pay you to work at home or as a “secret shopper”, they may give you an advance on a sweepstakes you won, or say you won a prize and requested you to send back taxes and fees.
“… Bottom line is if someone you don’t know wants to pay you by check but wants you to wire money back, it’s a scam!”
“Consumers must be cautious when exchanging money with strangers. Regardless of how the initial contact is made, the bottom line is if someone you don’t know wants to pay you by check but wants you to wire money back, it’s a scam,” said Patty Ostrout, Senior Vice President of Retail Banking. “Unfortunately, check scams are a continuing problem that all consumers need to be aware of so they do not fall victim and lose their hard earned money.”
You may be wondering, “Well, wouldn’t I recognize a fake check?” And the answer is, not necessarily. Today’s technology allows scammers to create or replicate fake checks that appear so real it is often difficult for even the experts to determine that they are fake with the naked eye.
Since federal law mandates that banks must make deposited funds available quickly, a customer may be able to withdraw money on a fake check, even if it is a cashier’s check or money order which can be forged as well.
To avoid becoming a victim, NBSB suggests that customers should remember to:
- Slow down to give yourself a chance to think. Before you act, talk a trusted friend or contact your bank.
- Never send money to someone who sent you a check.
- Review all your options when selling online and consider using an online payment service.
- Never accept a check for more than you are selling an item for.
- Report the scam by filing a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission at gov.
You should also keep in mind:
- There is no legitimate reason for someone who is giving you money to ask you to wire money back. Don’t let them convince you it is legitimate.
- If you are uncertain if a check is good, wait until the check has “cleared” to spend the money. This way you won’t be out the money you spent.
- If a stranger wants to pay you for something, insist on a cashier’s check for the exact amount, preferably from a local bank or one with a branch in your area.
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