Most people assume a cashier's check or money order is the same as cash, but in the days of Photoshop and color laser printers, that's no longer the case, and crooks can produce very convincing copies of the real thing, from seemingly legitimate U.S. banks. Once the bogus checks are deposited, they must be cleared like any other check. Checks may appear to clear your bank within a couple of days, and those funds may appear "available" in your account, but in reality it may take another month or more for the bank to establish that a check is bogus, return it to you, and debit your account for that amount. By then, the money you transferred out of your account for "shipping" is long gone.
To avoid being a victim of a counterfeit cashier's check, law enforcement recommends the following steps:
- Inspect the cashier's check.
- Ensure the amount of the check matches in figures and words.
- Check to see that the account number is not shiny in appearance.
- Be watchful that the drawer's signature is not traced.
- Official checks are generally perforated on at least one side.
- Inspect the check for additions, deletions, or other alterations.
- Contact the financial institution on which the check was drawn to ensure legitimacy.
- Obtain the bank's telephone number from a reliable source, not from the check itself.
- Be cautious when dealing with individuals outside of your own country.
If you suspect you have received a counterfeit cashier's check, or you are being offered one, you can contact your local police, or you can call the U.S. Secret Service at (202) 406-5850. You can also write to: U.S. Secret Service, Financial Crimes Division, 950 H Street, NW, Washington, D.C. 20223, or file a complaint online at www.secretservice.gov/contact_fcd.shtml
Recently, PayPal has become a target for scammers. The phony buyer will ask for your PayPal ID in order to send you a payment, again for substantially more than the purchase price. Shortly after that, you will receive a fake confirmation from PayPal with your user ID for more than the agreed purchase price, and the buyer will contact you asking you to send the extra money to a shipper. To make the scam look more legit, if you refuse, you'll receive additional fake notices from PayPal threatening to close your account if you don't transfer the extra money as per your "agreement."
Thanks to Bill Hoidas 847-381-3482, our Partner at Matrix Payment Systems