How to recognize a fake check |

How to recognize a fake check

Daily Staff Report

Tips for Recognizing and Avoiding Fake Check ScamsIf someone you don’t know wants to pay you by check but wants you to wire some of the money back, beware! It’s a scam that could cost you thousands of dollars.• There are many variations of the fake check scam. It could start with someone offering to buy something you advertised, pay you to do work at home, give you an “advance” on a sweepstakes you’ve supposedly won, or pay the first installment on the millions that you’ll receive for agreeing to have money in a foreign country transferred to your bank account for safekeeping.• Fake check scammers hunt for victims. They scan newspaper and online advertisements for people listing items for sale, and check postings on online job sites from people seeking employment. They place their own ads with phone numbers or e-mail addresses for people to contact them. And they call or send e-mails or faxes to people randomly, knowing that some will take the bait. • They often claim to be in another country. The scammers say it’s too difficult and complicated to send you the money directly from their country, so they’ll arrange for someone in the U.S. to send you a check or money order.• They tell you to wire some of the money after you’ve deposited the check. If you’re selling something, they say they’ll pay you by having someone in the U.S. who owes them money send you a check or money order. It will be for more than the sale price; you deposit the check or money order, keep what you’re owed, and wire the rest to them. Or you’re instructed to wire money to someone else who will arrange for shipping. If it’s part of a work-at-home scheme, they may claim that you’ll be processing payments from their “clients.” You deposit the checks or money orders and then wire them the money minus your “pay.” Or they may send you an overpayment “by mistake” and ask you to wire them the excess.• The checks or money orders are fake but they look real. In fact, they look so real that even bank tellers may be fooled. • You don’t have to wait long to use the money, but that doesn’t mean the check or money order is good. Under federal law, banks have to make the funds you deposit available quickly – usually within one to five days, depending on the type of check or money order. But just because you can withdraw the funds doesn’t mean the check or money order is good, even if it looks like a cashier’s check or a money order from the post office. It can take weeks for the forgery to be discovered. • There is no legitimate reason for someone who is giving you money to ask you to wire money back. If a stranger wants to pay you for something, insist on a cashiers check for the exact amount, preferably from a local bank or a bank that has a branch in your area.• Don’t deposit it report it! Report fake check scams to the National Fraud Information Center/Internet Fraud Watch, a service of the nonprofit National Consumers League, at or (800)876-7060. From the National Consumers LeagueVail, Colorado

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