Avoiding Fake Check Scams

African American woman, checking mail, mailbox, check

A fake check can be nearly impossible to recognize if you don’t know the warning signs. At Robins Financial, we believe the more our members know about scams and frauds, the better we can help protect ourselves and our community! The Fake Check Scam is a common trick, and it is one of the more dangerous scams because it can be tailored to take advantage of people in all different phases of life. Remember: A fraudster will say anything to get you to deposit that fake check.

The Fake Check Scam can go something like this:

  • You post an ad. This can be an ad to sell your old bicycle, or maybe your old gaming system. Someone responds to the ad, saying that they are interested in whatever you’re selling, and they are willing to pay MORE than your original asking price! Everything seems to be working out! But then....
  • The buyer asks you to do something with the extra funds. You may be selling the bike for $300, but they are sending a check for $500. The fraudster will likely ask you to take some of that extra money and go buy gift cards for them. They may ask you to take pictures of the front and back of the cards, or physically send the cards to them. In return, you can keep some of the extra funds, as a thank you! After that, they will come pick up the bike. Sounds great!
  • The check arrives in the mail. It looks legitimate. You deposit the check and immediately take some of the funds out to buy gift cards. It all seems to work out, until...
  • The check DOESN’T clear. The fraudulent $500 funds will be withdrawn from your account. If you have already spent the money, your account could potentially be taken into the negative, and you end up OWING money. Your “buyer” all of a sudden won’t respond to your messages, and doesn’t show up to take the bicycle, either. The fraudster got away with the legitimate funds that you sent them.

That is just one variation of the Fake Check Scam. Sometimes the check will be presented as a prize winning, or an inheritance, or some other fishy story. But always with the trap of you sending money or gift cards back to them after receiving the check.

Remember, if something seems suspicious or too good to be true, it probably is. If you’re ever skeptical about a check, bring it in to one of our branches and we will gladly review the check with you to determine whether or not it is legitimate.

If you receive a check that you think is a scam, report it to the Federal Trade Commission. Check out their helpful infographic on how to spot fake check scams.

Robins Financial Credit Union is committed to protecting the safety and security of our members. To find out more about how we protect our members every day, give us a call or stop by any of our branch locations.

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