Tiny Checks, Big Scam

Banks are sharing their member lists — and account information — with unscrupulous third party marketers like the Trilegiant corporation.

They’re sending out small checks to banking customers, that if cashed, enroll you in a “membership club.” The only benefits of joining are the pleasure of Trillegiant drawing thirty bucks from your banking account every month. You’ll only find that out, though, if you read the very fine print, or happen to catch the suspicious transactions.

Don’t cash these checks. If you forget to cancel within 30 days, a six pack and Dorritos is not worth the hassle of getting a refund or stopping payment.

Don’t cash that check! It’s a scam” [MSNBC] (Thanks to Ca Choppers!)


Edit Your Comment

  1. bluegus32 says:

    See, here’s a clue — mystery company that you’ve never heard of sends you a check.

    And Ben, I wouldn’t call that “very fine print.” It’s on the face of the check in what appears to be type which is only about 2 points smaller than the rest of type on the check. And it stands out as the only actual written text on the page.

    Seriously, if you get hooked into this, you have no one to blame but yourself.

  2. Xkeeper says:

    Is it just me, or is this becoming more common lately?

    First the fake bill with an included blank check (with an absurd intrest rate), now this… I hate to see what comes next.

  3. The_Truth says:

    See, here’s a clue — YOUR BANK GIVING YOU FREE MONEY!

    Thats right, its never going to happen, so therefore it is a scam.

  4. Trai_Dep says:

    Is it certain that the source came from your bank?

    I’d be angry if my bank sold my name to a company like this. Write registered letter to CEO before creating a big scene yanking my money out of my bank angry.

    On the other hand, if it’s merely scurious junk mailers offering “free” money from generic maillists, then yeah, I’d lean towards the buyer beware reaction.

  5. timmus says:

    My endorsement stamp says “FOR DEPOSIT ONLY”… is that enough to protect me against accidental crap like this in this day and age? Granted a lot of the scams are obvious enough when there’s stuff printed on the back of the check.

  6. squidhat says:

    What prevents someone from cashing this cheque at a place like MoneyMart? Sure, they would take a small chunk of it but it would really screw over the company when they can’t withdraw to recoup their loss. Also, why is the link dead?

  7. Trai_Dep says:

    timmus –

    I think your “for deposit only” on the back is trumped by the printing on the front saying, “if Timmus cashes this, we pwn his shiny white butt” (or words to that effect).

  8. homerjay says:

    If a check has any ‘extra’ text on it or comes attached to a letter of some sort, or comes from an unrecognized or unsolicited source, you really should consider looking a little more closely.
    I can’t imagine anyone in their right mind getting scammed by this.

  9. Ben Popken says:

    Link seems to be working fine for me.

  10. econobiker says:

    If companies can subscribe a consumer through this type of tactic, should consumers be able to add terms to their checks such as “Cashing this check negates any mandatory arbitration clauses between consumer and company.”?

  11. GOAM says:

    Actually, I’m in my right mind, and I DID make the mistake of cashing the check.

    The check had the name of my bank in the top corner, and since I have a reward card with that bank, I assumed that it was a check for that. Later, when I was filing what I thought was the rewards receipt, I discovered the error.

    I then spent several weeks trying to cancel. Each time, I would spend 10 minutes wading through the phone menus only to be told “we have no one to speak to you right now”, followed by a dial tone.

    When I finally got to a live person (still in the “trial” period), I explained politely that I wanted to cancel. The person on the other end proceeded to tell me what a great program it was, and ended with, “So, I will keep your account active.” I responded NO, please cancel; and we repeated this song and dance three times (at increasing volume on my part) until she finally agreed to cancel and gave me a confirmation number.

    I am watching my account to be sure it canceled, but so far, it looks like it went through.