Avoid Depositing Checks from Unknown Parties

Consumers should be on the lookout for fake check scams, the National Credit Union Administration, the federal agency that insures 1st Nor Cal members’ deposits, warned after receiving numerous inquiries from consumers.

There are many versions of a fake check scam. However, the result is the same. Scammers lure consumers into depositing a cashier’s check, money order, or other checking instrument from someone that they don’t know and wiring or sending money to the scammers. A check may take considerably longer to clear the financial institution that issued it before the funds can be collected. It could take days or even weeks to discover that the deposited check was fraudulent.

When the check is discovered to be fraudulent, the damage may already have been done. Once a victim wires or sends funds from such a check, he or she may be responsible for reimbursing the financial institution for that amount. Typically, the financial institution will not cover the financial loss and expects the victim to pay the difference.

The Federal Trade Commission also recently issued a fake check scam alert. These checks can be hard to recognize. They may be printed with the names, addresses, and logos of legitimate financial institutions. Consumers are reminded to be on the alert and to not be pressured into wiring funds or sending money after depositing a check.

If you think you or someone you know was the victim of a fake check scam, consider taking the following steps:

  • Contact your local law enforcement agency to report the scam.
  • Contact your state’s attorney general. Contact information for each state’s attorney general can be found on the National Association of Attorneys General website.
  • File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission. Your complaint will be filed into a secure online database, which is used by many local, state, federal, and international law enforcement agencies. Complaints from consumers help detect patterns of fraud and abuse.
  • If you or the victim is an older adult or a person with a disability, contact your local adult protective services agency. You can find local support resources using the online Eldercare Locator or by calling 1-800-677-1116.

NCUA operates an online Fraud Prevention Center that offers information about avoiding frauds and scams on its MyCreditUnion.gov website. NCUA also released a two-part video series for consumers on fraud prevention techniques.

Source: National Credit Union Administration