September 28, 2023 • 5 mins
Whether it’s a credit card breach or a check cashing scam, fraud happens every day. Unfortunately, Patelco members can be victims as well, even if you’re digitally and financially savvy. Here, we break down common check cashing scams and how to spot them.
A fake check scam is when a fraudster asks you to help them cash a check. There are several variations of this scam, but they all involve legitimate-looking checks — certified and cashier checks too — and a story about why the fraudster needs you to cash the check.
Once they have convinced you to help them, they might ask you to meet them at a cash checking location or they may simply mail you the check to deposit at your credit union. (Note that many check cashing businesses require your personal information and/or financial account details.)
Within a few days or weeks, the check will bounce (either because it’s fake or because there’s no funds in the account the check came from) – leaving you on the hook for the amount with your credit union or with the check cashing business.
There are several variations of the fake check scam, but they all involve legitimate-looking checks — personal, corporate, cashier’s or certified — and a story about why the fraudster needs you to cash the check.”
Fake check scams take many forms – here’s a few common fake check scam examples according to the Federal Trade Commission:
Cashier’s checks — checks that are issued by a bank and sold to a customer — are considered relatively risk free and are often used as a trusted form of payment. However, they’ve become an attractive way for scammers to target victims.
These scams are often set up just like the scenarios outlined above. For example, you might sell goods online and the buyer sends you a “cashier’s check” for the price you agreed on, and you ship your goods to the buyer. By the time you and your bank discover that the cashier’s check was fraudulent, the buyer, the money and your goods are long gone. (Another variation of this is the overpayment scam above.)
Beside the situations described above, you can also examine the check for telltale signs that it’s fake.
When in doubt don’t cash that check! Remember that there’s no such thing as free money – and no such thing as easy money either. If you think you’ve been a target or victim of a fake check scam, we’re your trusted resource, so contact us – we’re available at your local branch and at 800.358.8228.
Additionally, report any fake check scam to the Federal Trade Commission ReportFraud.ftc.gov. And if the scam involved the mail (such as a fake check mailed to you), report it to the US Postal Inspection Service at uspis.gov/report.
If you’ve been affected by an online scam, it’s important to notify your bank and government agencies that track and investigate these crimes. Follow these steps to recover from the fraud.
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