The NCUA has noted an increase in check scams. These scams come in a variety of forms, but the most common ones are:
- From someone purchasing something online – In this scenario, you receive a check for more than what you’re selling for, and instructed to send the extra to some third party, usually because the buyer owes that person money. It’s a convoluted story, but many sellers get trapped in it.
- Work from home opportunities – A fake job posting sends you an advance and asks that you deposit a portion of it a specific account.
- Advance on sweepstakes – Victims are told they won a prize, and receive an “advance” they can cash, but are asked to pay for taxes/fees by wiring a portion of it back.
As you can see, the common thread is victims are sent money, but are asked to return a portion of it.
Why It’s Effective
The checks often look real; they use a real financial institution name, address, etc. Because funds are made available to you before a check is fully cleared, you’ll essentially be sending money back that you don’t really have. When the check bounces, the depositor is held accountable for the funds.
Who is Vulnerable?
If you’re selling something online or hunting for a job, you could come across one of these scams. Some people, especially with the sweepstakes fraud, are emailed at random.
If you’re expecting a check from someone, don’t agree to any terms that require you to wire a portion back.
For work from home opportunities, always research the prospective employer and contact them directly to ensure it’s a real job.
You should also do your research when it comes to sweepstakes prizes. If you don’t remember entering, contact the organization and get the details.