How To Avoid Check Scams

Learn how to avoid check scams to protect yourself from financial criminals. Financial crime is the fastest growing crime category in the United States, and it shows no pity on its’ victims. To avoid becoming the target of a check scam you need to arm yourself with information, and this article is one step toward reaching that goal. Check scam criminals look for targets of opportunity, and will cast their net baited with a variety of methods to capture their prey. The check scammer’s weapons of choice are computers, laser printers, telephones, and a trusting consumer. The check scam criminal is without a conscious, and will pass the name of his conned victim to other scammers for a price, to be targeted again and again for fraudulent crimes. Check scam or any other confidence scam will never be completely eliminated, but an informed public can make their criminal profession less lucrative. The following tips will assist you in avoiding the check scam criminal, and inform you how to secure your financial information. 

  1. Use a credit or charge card for purchases. In the event of theft or unauthorized purchases you will in most cases only be liable for the first $50.00 in charges. 
  2. Never write a check for more than the purchase amount. If someone offers to buy merchandise with a check for more than the purchase price, and asks that the difference be wired back after the check is deposited. This is a scam. The check is worthless and your bank will hold you liable for the whole amount of the check and related fees. This is a favorite tactic for the check scam criminal targeting Internet auction sites or classified ad listings.
  3. Verify who you are dealing with. If the person is unknown to you, personally verify the potential buyer’s name, physical address and phone number. Confirm with the bank shown on the check as the issuing bank that the account number is valid and matches the name on the check, if there are sufficient funds, and if they have been any reports of stolen checks. Get the banks phone number from directory assistance or a trusted Internet source.
  4. Only take checks drawn from a local bank. You can visit a local bank to determine the validity of financial information.
  5. Beware of popular check scams. A favorite con artists check scam is the secret shopper scam. In the secret shopper scam the person is supposedly hired to grade a wire service, by cashing a supplied check at their bank, wire transfer the cash to Canada, then write an evaluation report of the wire service. The scam artist picks up the untraceable and unrecoverable funds leaving the “secret shopper” to cover the bank’s loss. 

Remember, by law banks are required to make monies from checks deposited available to you from U. S. Department of Treasury, government agencies, and financial institution checks the next business day after deposit.  For other checks, banks must make the first $100 available the day after check is deposited, and remaining funds on the second day after the deposit at a local bank. But, if the bank is not local, funds are to be available within five days. So, if funds have been withdrawn before the check has been cleared by your bank, you are responsible for those distributed funds.  Be smart, be alert and remember tips for how to avoid a check scam.”



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