FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – The Better Business Bureau is warning consumers of fake check scams.
Most of us are writing fewer checks but the number of fake check scams is going up locally and nationally.
Fake checks are used in a variety of frauds, from employment scams to prize and sweepstakes fraud.
Often, victims deposit the check and send money back to scammers. BBB warns consumers to be on guard against these serious and pervasive frauds and their perpetrators.
Scammers frequently succeed because consumers don’t realize just because the check “clears” does not mean it’s good. Federal banking rules require a bank to credit your account within a day or two of deposit. A week later, if the check bounces, the bank will want the money back. Consumers will be on the hook.
The BBB also warns that cashier’s checks and money orders can be faked. Scammers use them because many people don’t realize they can be forged.
“Anyone can be a target of fake check scams which is why it is so important to know how protect yourself from it,” said Marjorie Stephens, BBB Northern Indiana President and CEO. “Prevent it from happening to you by spotting the warning signs and seeking guidance from a credible source.”
It happens to tens of thousands of people every year.
“Buyers” send a check for more than the full price to sellers of cars or other items on Craigslist and other online classifieds sites. “Employers” send a check to “new hires” to buy supplies needed to do the job from home. Sweepstakes or lottery “winners” are given a check to pay taxes so the award can be delivered.
In each of those examples, the victim is asked to send cash to the scammers for the “overpayment.”
Based on complaint data trends, the study suggests that there may be more than 500,000 victims of counterfeit checks in 2017.
The study found the fraud affects victims of all ages and income levels, but consumers between 20-29 reported being victimized by the scam more than consumers of any other age range.