Have you ever heard of a check scam? It’s one of the fastest growing types of financial crimes nationwide.
Check scams come in so many different varieties that the Federal Trade Commission is having a hard time keeping up with all of them! While the particulars can be quite different, most check scams start when someone gives you — or offers to give you —a check, cashiers check or money order. You may be selling something via Craigslist. You may be notified that you’re the ‘winner’ of a foreign lottery. The check may simply land in your mailbox for some other reason. After you receive the check, you are asked to deposit it and then wire transfer a portion to the check issuer for some bogus reason, such as the check was made out for too much or to pay prize ‘taxes and fees.’
The check is a fake, of course, and by the time you’ve discovered that fact you’ve already wired the money. Don’t think you could fall for a scam like that? Experts say check scams aren’t only a crime for the very young or old or those with little in the way of financial education. It’s a crime that even highly educated people are falling for with alarming regularity!
As a general rule: If you’re selling something, have the buyer pay with cash, not a check. And if you’ve been notified you have won a prize, know that it’s probably not a real one if you’re required to pay anything to actually receive it!
Here are some great tips from the FTC for spotting check scams and avoiding becoming a victim.