"Chances are you've been the target of a fake check scam," said Corey Carlisle, executive director of the American Bankers Association Foundation (ABA) Foundation. "Maybe a scammer contacted you about an item you listed for sale online, or you saw a too-good-to-be-true offer to work from home on social media. The fraudsters are sophisticated and convincing, and while their scams may vary, there's one constant: check fraud."
Variations on a Scheme
- A scam artist replies to a classified ad or auction posting, offers to pay for the item with a check, and then comes up with a reason for writing the check for more than the purchase price. The scammer asks the seller to wire back the difference after depositing the check. The seller does it, and later, when the scammer's check bounces, the seller is left liable for the entire amount.
- Scammers use high quality printers and scanners to produce realistic-looking checks that contain authentic-looking watermarks, legitimate financial institution names and addresses, and even real routing numbers.
What You Can Do
- Slow down. Before you act, talk to someone you trust and contact your bank.
- Never send money back to someone who sent you a check.
- Selling online? Consider using an escrow or online payment service.
- Never take a check for more than your selling price.
- Spot this scam? Tell the Federal Trade Commission.