If you received a check in the mail this holiday season, you may be wondering: “Is my check fake?” With all the festivities the economy will see it’s annual boost as consumers look to spend money to celebrate. Through all of the celebrations, make sure you protect yourself from those individuals looking to steal your hard earned money and ruin your celebrations. How will they steal from you you may ask? Through check fraud. According to a recent survey by Experian, 1 in 4 Americans report being a victim of fraud during the holidays. That’s 25% of the US population!
Why is check fraud so dangerous?
Proceeds from these fraud rings go to support drug and sex trafficking, even terrorist activity. The worst part is the heartache and pain it can cause the victim. Not only are victims embarrassed for falling prey to a scam, they have to pay restitution on the entire amount of the check even if didn’t keep all of it. Some could even face criminal charges. So you’re right to ask, “Is my check fake?”. It’s the responsible thing to do.
How do check scams work?
In order for a check scam to work, the victim must cash or deposit the fake check into their account and then send all or part of the money to the scammer. Around the time that the scammer receives the money, the financial institution realizes that the check is fraudulent after the check bounces. By then, it’s too late. The scammers have received the money in a way they can’t be traced, and the victim is left “holding the bag”.
One scam to watch out for during the holiday season is the Internet Purchase Scam.
The Internet Purchase Scam
In the internet purchase scam the scammer is often the buyer. They will respond to an ad of an item that you have for sale and will send a check for more than the amount of the item. Once the check has been sent they will reach back out acknowledging their “error” in overpaying for the item and frantically requesting the overpayment be returned via Western Union quickly.
Is my check fake? 2 ways to know:
1. Contact the bank that backs the account-
Look up a published number for the bank in the city and state listed on the check and call that number. Not the phone number on the check. Explain to the bank that you are the recipient of the check and would like to verify that the account is valid and funds are available for the check to clear at this time. You can flat out ask them, “Is my check fake?”. If the scammers are using a fake bank account, you will know right away that your check is not real and can report them to the authorities.
2. Deposit & Wait-
Explain to your bank or check cashing store that you received the check and would like for them to verify the check is real before giving you access to the funds. Again, it’s ok to ask them, “Is my check fake?”. The second part of this step is so important. I have heard so many stories where individuals have lost their account or relationship with a check cashing store because they deposited or cashed the check and immediately used the funds. After the check didn’t clear, they were unable to repay the funds immediately and their accounts were closed.
Waiting until funds clear is not what the check scammers want you to do. That’s why they will put pressure (even threaten legal action against you) to send them their “overpayment” back immediately. It can take up to 10 days for the funds to settle and for you to really know if the check is real. Don’t allow them to pressure you into sending any money until you have received the “all clear” from the bank or check cashing store that the funds have settled.
What to do if you are the victim of check fraud.
If you find that you are the victim of check fraud, reach out to the Fraud or Financial Crimes Division of your local law enforcement agency to report the crime and cooperate with their investigation. Also, notify all of the financial institutions involved in the transaction of the criminal activity. Make them aware that you have reported the crime to the authorities, and then make plans with them to repay the funds in full along with any associated fees. Keep your head up. Don’t forget that you’re the victim. This crime could happen to anyone.
Do you want to know if your check is real?
Enjoy your holiday season without any added stress from having to deal with the fallout from being the victim of a check cashing scam. Follow these 2 ways to know if your check is real and beat the scammers at their own game! If you would like for Value Check Cashing in Tulsa to verify your check, click our Check Pre-Verification button and complete the form. One of our tellers will get back to you with the results of our verification process as soon as possible.