We have seen several instances of check scams in the past months. This article is meant to educate our customers about how check scams occur and what to look for to avoid a check scam.
Many of the recent incidents we’ve seen involve one of the following:
- A scammer may ask you to cash a check/money order or to allow transfer of funds to your account and then say you can keep a percentage of the funds
- The scammer promises you will receive money in exchange for transferring money to your account from an external source
- You are overpaid for an item you sold on the internet (i.e. Craigslist, EBay, etc.)
- You receive a letter in the mail, a phone call, or an email indicating you have won a lottery or sweepstakes
- You receive notice that you have received an inheritance from someone you do not know
- You have received mail, an email or fax requesting an immediate response
So how are all of these check scams the same?
In most cases, you are contacted by someone who says you will be getting a check from them in exchange for a specific action on your part. They usually tell you that after the check is deposited, you will then need to wire transfer the money back to them. The story will be complicated and usually sounds legitimate. It is only after this occurs that the original check you deposited will be returned back to your bank as a counterfeit item. The full amount of the check will then be deducted from your account. The result of such a scam is that you have now paid the scammer the amount of the original check from your own, personal funds in addition to losing the money that was sent to you in the first place.
Why did the bank allow me to withdraw the money?
Federal law requires that we release funds to you within several business days of the deposit. The number of days varies depending on the deposited item, but does not usually surpass 7. Because it may take longer than this for the funds to actually be moved from one bank to another, you may be at risk when spending deposited funds if you do not know the sender personally.
Is it possible for the bank to determine if the check is good or bad?
A bank is not always able to verify funds on an item. It’s extremely important that you know the source of the funds and trust the legitimacy of the transaction prior to withdrawing these funds from your account.
Who is responsible when I incur a loss due to a check fraud scam?
In short, the customer is always responsible for funds deposited to their account. The bank cannot determine the legitimacy of checks you receive since they do not know where you received the check. You should always be careful regarding checks you receive from people you do not know.
This all sounds pretty scary, and hopeless. Isn’t there anything the bank can do to protect me?
At Central National Bank, our staff is trained to recognize the signs of check fraud and ask questions to the customer. It is not always easy to catch this fraud if the customer feels certain the check is legitimate. We do our best to protect our customers, and ask that you work with us to help catch check fraud before it happens. If you have additional questions about check fraud please feel free to contact our service representatives at 1-800-262-5456. When in doubt, ask your local banker for help determining the legitimacy of a check.