How To Spot and Report Fraudulent Checks
Even in today’s digital society where electronic money transfers are prevalent, consumers and businesses may still prefer the supposed security of physical checks.
However, over 500,000 Americans fall prey to fraudulent check scams every year, with the average victim losing $1,200.
This article will show you how to protect yourself from fraudulent check scams, and the process of reporting fraudulent check scams to government agencies, consumer advocacy groups, and your Human Resources department.
What Are Fraudulent Checks?
Fraudulent checks have been created with the purpose of stealing money. Depending on the value intended to be accessed with the check, the fraudulent check issuer may be liable for a misdemeanor or a felony according to US federal law.
Fake checks come in many forms. The table below outlines what you need to know about different types of fraudulent checks.
|Types of Fraudulent Checks||Details|
|Altered Checks||Sensitive parts of its original information such as name, code, or signature have been erased and replaced with another.|
|Forged Checks||Some or all of its necessary details have been craftily written by someone who isn’t the owner and without the owner’s authorization.|
|Counterfeit Checks||Drafted from stolen information and the details of a victim.|
|Paperhanging Checks||Issued from closed accounts, newly opened or already established accounts without any funds in them to withdraw from the bank.|
|Kiting Checks||Checks from an empty or insufficient account used to draw on another empty or insufficient account, owned by a single individual.
Anyone, including your boss, can be guilty of this.
|Money Order Fraud Checks||Swapped in place of a money order.|
|Theft Checks||Stolen from the owner or connected to an impersonated bank account.|
|Float Checks||A fake post-dated check from an account without funds, that has been used to make payments to another party, taking advantage of the time wait, to dupe them.|
How To Spot Fraudulent Checks?
The table below outlines a few ways to spot a fraudulent check. A fake check will most likely have problems with:
|Logo||A faint, distorted, or absent bank logo is a tell-tale sign.|
|Edges||If it’s all smooth and without any perforations, then be wary.|
|Appended Signature||Funny actions around a signature like ink marks or blurry squiggles may hint at suspicion.|
|Paper||Fake checks may be abnormally smooth when you touch them.|
|MICR line||This is a 9-digit code at the bottom of the check that tells the issuing bank, its location, and the specific issuing branch. You can verify the authenticity of this code with the federal authority.|
|Serial Number||Most fraudulent checks are issued from newly opened accounts. You can tell if an account is newly opened if the serial number is less than 400 and 1500, for private account holders and businesses, respectively.|
How to Protect Yourself From Fake Checks?
You can follow these simple precautions to not let a scammer take advantage of you. When you receive a suspicious check, be sure to:
- Examine It: An outrageous or unusual amount, omissions and inconsistencies in details or a business name that looks too good to be real are tell-tale signs of fraudulent checks.
- Ask Questions: Why me? What for? These are the questions you should ask yourself or talk to a financial expert about. Whenever you end up with a check that you cannot remember anticipating, do not accept it as it can be fraudulent.
- Never Attempt to Cash It: the scammer may be trying to take advantage of verification delays in the banking system to get you to spend a bad check. When eventually found to be fraudulent, the money will be charged against your account and could lead to increased debt on your account plus overdraft fees.
- Report: there are government agencies, consumer advocacy groups, departments within your workplace where you can report a case of fraudulent checks.
Where Can I Report Fraudulent Checks?
If you believe you’ve been scammed, report it immediately to any of the following agencies:
|The Federal Trade Commission||The Federal Trade Commission is the umbrella body for all trade activities in the US.
All forms of trade fraud experienced can be reported here. All you have to do is specify if it is from a fellow employee, a manager, a business partner, or a stranger.
You can file your complaint here.
|The FBI||You can submit a complaint form to your local
|US Postal Service (USPS)||The United States Postal Services registers and investigates all complaints of fraudulent checks that have been perpetrated by mail.
You can submit your complaints to its fraud investigation desk.
|Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB)||The CFPB is a government agency in charge of all consumer complaints against bank operations. If you believe a bank is responsible for making you fall victim to a fraudulent check by way of improper scrutiny or a late discovery, you can complain to the CFPB.|
|State Consumer Protection Offices||You can also contact your state consumer protection office to file your complaint.|
|Consumer Advocacy Groups|
|The Internet Crime Complaint Center (iC3)||The IC3 is an initiative of the FBI and the National White Collar Crime Center that specifically deals with all types of corporate fraud committed on the internet. This is recommended if you are a victim of an online fraudulent check scam.|
|The Better Business Bureau (BBB)||The BBB is an NGO committed to improving trust in American and Canadian businesses.|
|HR||Report any fraudulent checks found in your workplace to HR immediately.|
DoNotPay’s Anonymous HR Complaint Product Helps You Deal With Complex Issues in the Workplace
1. Sign up at DoNotPay and search for the Anonymous HR Complaint product.
2. Fill in your employer’s name and HR department’s mailing address.
3. Explain clearly the issues that you are experiencing and how you want them resolved.
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