Alert: Check Scams
In recent months we have been seeing an increase in check scams. While we provide 24-hour surveillance and real-time reporting of account activity, it’s important that customers remain vigilant in recognizing fraud attempts. Fake check scams often work because fake checks generally look just like real checks, even to bank employees. They may be printed with the names and addresses of legitimate financial institutions. They may even be real checks written on bank accounts that belong to someone whose identity has been stolen. It can take weeks for a bank to figure out that the check is a fake.
By law, banks have to make deposited funds available quickly, usually within two days. When the funds are made available in your account, the bank may say the check has “cleared,” but that doesn’t mean it’s a good check. Fake checks can take weeks to be discovered and untangled. By that time, the scammer has any money you sent. If the check is found to be fraudulent, the amount will be charged to your bank account.
Your best bet: Don’t rely on money from a check unless you know and trust the person you’re dealing with.
Here are some examples of check scams we’ve seen:
You apply online and think you’re getting hired as a personal assistant. You get a check and are told to use the money to buy gift cards and send the PIN numbers to your “boss.” But that’s a scammer, and once they get the gift card PINs, they use them instantly. That leaves you without the money when the bank figures out the check was fake.
Car wrap decals
You respond to an offer for car wrap advertising. The company tells you to deposit a check and then send money to decal installers. But it’s a scam, the installers aren’t real, and now your money is gone.
A sweepstakes says you’ve won and gives you a check. They tell you to send them money to cover taxes, shipping and handling charges, or processing fees. But that’s not how legitimate sweepstakes work — and you’ll be out any money you send.
People buying something from you online, “accidentally” send a check for too much, and ask you to refund the balance. But that’s a scam.
How To Avoid a Fake Check Scam
· Never use money from a check to send gift cards, money orders, cryptocurrency, or to wire money to anyone who asks you to. Many scammers demand that you buy gift cards and send them the PIN numbers, buy cryptocurrency and transfer it to them, or send money through wire transfer services. Once you do, it’s almost impossible to get it back.
· Throw away offers that ask you to pay for a prize. If it’s free, you shouldn’t have to pay to get it. Only scammers will ask you to pay to collect a “free” prize.
· Don’t accept a check for more than the selling price. You can bet it’s a scam.
· Be vigilant in tracking your account activity. Set up alerts to monitor account activity through online banking.
· If you receive a suspicious email/text/call or believe you’ve been the target of a scam, contact us immediately at 1-800-447-4559 or email@example.com. We’re here to help.