Check scams have been circulating for years and, now, consumers are seeing a new version of this involving mobile deposit. In an effort to protect you and your accounts, we want to be sure you are informed about this.
How the scam works
A fraudster contacts the victim through email or social media posing as a potential employer or lender. The fraudster may explain that he or she needs to deposit funds to the consumer’s account or needs assistance moving money from overseas. The fraudster requests the consumer’s bank account information, including their online or mobile banking login and password.
The fraudster uses the information to deposit a fake check and then withdraws the funds (usually in the form of a bill pay or a person-to-person (P2P) transfer) before the bank knows that the check is fraudulent. The victim is left owing the bank money when the check bounces.
Avoid falling prey to these scams by following these few simple steps:
- Never give out personal information to strangers. This includes your debit card number, PIN, bank account number, and any online or mobile banking login information.
- If you are offered money in exchange for your personal information, it’s likely a scam. Don’t proceed. Scammers could leave you owing thousands and these unpaid balances will be sent to a collections agency. This could affect your chances of getting a loan, a job, or even housing later on.
- If a stranger wants to pay for something, it’s safer to accept cash, a cashier’s check, or PayPal. If you must accept a check, remember it takes several days for a check to fully clear, even if the funds are not on hold. Until the check clears, you are responsible for any funds withdrawn against it.
- Check your online bank statements regularly. If you see something unfamiliar, call your bank or credit union immediately.
- If you apply for a work-from-home job by email or online and the first thing they do is send you a check to cash then request you to return some or all of the money to them, it’s most likely a scam. Be sure to check out the company thoroughly – sometimes a quick internet search will help. This could save you time and money, in the long run.
If you suspect fraud
If you suspect a check is fraudulent, don’t deposit it.
If you believe you have been the victim of a fraudster, contact your local police department immediately and notify your financial institution as soon as possible. They can place additional safeguards on your account.
Remember, if the offer seems too good to be true, it probably is. If you aren’t sure, trust your instincts and don’t proceed. You are ultimately responsible for the activity in your bank account – if you deposit a check that’s counterfeit, it will end up being your responsibility until the fraudsters are prosecuted, if ever. In the end, it’s best to not take chances.