Protect yourself from checking fraud.
While the last time you used a check to pay a bill may have been months – or even years – ago, you may be surprised to find that you can still be a victim of checking fraud.
Here are some of the more common types of checking fraud, how to identify fake check scams, and what to do if you become a victim.
Types of checking fraud.
There are many different forms of checking fraud. You may receive a fake or bad check to deposit, and the scammer will ask you to send them some of your own money before the bank fully processes your deposit and realizes the check is fake.
How to identify checking fraud.
You’re asked to buy gift cards or send a money order.
Simply put: Just don’t. This is like sending cash, and you won’t be able to get your money back.
You’re asked to pay to receive a prize.
Decline the “prize.” What do you win if you have to pay for it?
You’re paid with a check for more than you’re owed.
Don’t accept it and ask for a corrected check.
What happens if I’m a victim of a checking fraud scam?
Unfortunately, if you deposit a check that turns out to be fake, the check will bounce, and you will pay a fee. Even worse, if you use the money from a fake check to send to a scammer, you’ll likely be responsible for the amount of the check. According to the FTC, the median amount people lost in a checking fraud scheme was just under $2,000. That’s a lot of money to lose.
What can you do? If you’re a victim of a checking fraud scam, there are steps you can take to resolve the situation:
Try to stop the payment.
You may be able to block the money from reaching the scammer. If you sent gift card information, contact the company that issued the gift card and see if it can cancel the gift card or refund your money. If you wired money, contact the money transfer service or your bank. If you paid by money order, contact the company you used to see if it can reverse the payment
Report the fraud.
Let the bank whose name is on the fraudulent check know you received a fake check, as well as your own bank. Also, consider reporting this to the:
- Federal Trade Commission
- U.S. Postal Inspection Service (if you got the check in the mail)
- Your state’s attorney general
Create a fraud alert with the credit reporting agencies.
It doesn’t hurt to create a fraud alert on your credit reports by contacting one of the three credit bureaus.
Preventing fraud – whether it’s a fake check scam or credit card fraud, take some effort to regularly monitor your accounts. And remember, knowledge is power! Learn more about online security and how to protect yourself from identity theft on our website.