Check fraud has been around as long as checks, and even though technology is fast rendering the old-school payment method obsolete, check fraudsters have still gotta eat, so they’ve just got to try that much harder to con you out of your money.
Chicago Tribune consumer columnist Kayce T. Ataiyero put together a vertiable Check Scam Avoidance for Dummies checklist. Some of these we’ve covered before, but it never hurts to brush up on the most popular tricks.
—Toss any offer that asks you to pay for a gift or prize. A legitimate sweepstakes or lottery would not ask for payment in return.
—Do not enter foreign lotteries. It is illegal to play a foreign lottery by mail or by phone.
—When selling an item, do not accept a check or money order for more than the agreed-upon price.
—If you accept payment by check, ask for it to be drawn from a bank with a local branch so you can verify it at the institution. If that’s not possible, call the bank listed on the check. Get the bank’s phone number from a trusted source, not the person who gave you the check.
—If you deposit a check from a source you don’t know well, wait a few weeks before using the funds to make sure the check is legitimate. If you were to spend the money before the check clears, the bank could force you to make up for its loss.
—Contact your local and state consumer protection agency and the Federal Trade Commission at 877-FTC-HELP if you suspect you have been a check-scam victim.
—Visit fakechecks.org for more tips.
Another important tip: Don’t get behind anyone at the grocery store who’s paying by check. Those people take forever.