With the growth of technology, scammers have become more and more sophisticated. In fact, digitally altered copies of actual business checks are practically impossible to spot.
Did you know that there may have been more than 500,000 victims of counterfeit checks in 2021? Check fraud is growing, and more often than not, victims are losing money as a result of that. But how do you protect yourself? Read on to know more.
1) Order Checks from a Reputable Dealer
Ordering checks from your bank may be an expensive proposition. On the other hand, nowadays, many online dealers claim to provide you with a cheap alternative to banks. But, not all such online dealers are genuine. In such a scenario, it’s essential for you to order checks from a reputable dealer. You can have a look at the best places to order checks on this page. By doing so, you get access to anti-fraud security features such as CPSA certification, BBB accreditation, EZShield protection, and more that will safeguard you from check fraud.
2) Do Not Cash Any Unexpected Checks
Companies usually do not send checks without supporting documentation that has details about why the check was issued to you. You should never cash any checks that you aren’t expecting. You may be tempted to do so because everybody loves unexpected windfalls. But remember, if it seems too good to be true, it is better to be prudent rather than end up becoming a scamming victim. You need to practice basic financial literacy in your day-to-day life.
3) Do Not Accept Checks That Are for Amounts Greater Than the Price of Goods You Are Selling
Many scammers are in the habit of targeting people who are in the business of selling high-value goods. They offer a check with a value that is more than the actual price of the goods being sold. They then ask the seller to transfer the excess amount to either themselves or to a third party. What happens, in reality, is that the seller ends up transferring his money to the scammer and then realizes that the check has bounced since it was counterfeit. Hence, if you are a seller, you mustn’t accept any checks for amounts that are more than the actual price of the goods you are selling.
4) Be Wary Of Employment Scams
You may be a target of employment scams that have become common these days. An employment scam is one where you get to know that you’ve been hired for a job and are told to deposit a check in your bank account. The next step for you is to withdraw a substantial amount of the money and wire transfer it to a third party. You may be offered hundreds of dollars of the original amount as payment. Once the bank discovers the checks to be phony, it will reverse the deposit and leave you liable for the money you’ve transferred.
5) Be Wary Of Sweepstake Scams.
You may be a target of sweepstake scams, where scammers operate in a unique way. They may contact you by post (or even on the phone) and tell you that you’ve won a prize in a sweepstake, and send you a check. They then ask you to send some money to take care of shipping, taxes, and handling charges, or maybe even processing fees. Once you do so, they just disappear. Remember if something seems too good to be true, you should be doubly cautious.
6) Contact the Sender to Verify Any Unexpected Checks That You May Receive
If you get an unexpected check in the mail, be sure to always contact the sender to verify whether it is genuine. But, you need to know that a fake check, or any instructions that come with it, may have the contact details of the scammers themselves. The best thing to do to get around this is by obtaining telephone numbers on your own from the company website or directory assistance.
7) Always Double-Check the Method of Communication Used by the Sender of a Check
A lot of scammers may communicate with you through messaging apps or social media. You may even get realistic-looking email communication at times, but a close inspection will reveal that they are personal email providers such as Hotmail or Gmail. Remember that a legitimate business will rarely use personal email accounts for business purposes. Neither will they communicate with you exclusively through messaging or social media apps. Do not be shy to ask for a company website and communication from a company email address. In most cases, the scammer will never get back to you!
If you ever receive a check that you aren’t expecting, told to deposit it, and transfer money to a third party, you should be very careful. No legitimate business will ever ask you to do something like that. Follow the steps given in this article to avoid becoming a victim of check fraud. If by chance, you do become a victim to a check scam, be sure to report fraud to your state’s Attorney General, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, or the Federal Trade Commission.