SCAM ALERT: Use Caution When Cashing Checks

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A rash of check fake cashing scams has the National Credit Union Administration and the Federal Trade Commission on alert.

“We do occasionally see a fake check pass through the Credit Union,” Painesville Credit Union CEO Lori Guzzi said. “If you suspect a check might be fake, bring it in to us and we’ll take a look at it. My no means should you ever attempt to cash a check from a person you don’t know unless you have someone at your financial institution take a look at it for you.”

There are many versions of a fake check scam, but the result is always the same. Scammers lure consumers into depositing a cashier’s check or money order from someone that they don’t know and wiring or sending money to the scammers. A check may take considerably longer to clear the financial institution that issued it before the funds can be collected. It could take days or even weeks to discover that the deposited check was fraudulent.

Guzzi said by then, the damage is done.

“By the time the check is found to be fraudulent, the damage may already have been done,” she said.

Once a victim wires or sends funds from such a check, he or she may be responsible for reimbursing the financial institution for that amount. Typically, the financial institution will not cover the financial loss and expects the victim to pay the difference.

Fake checks can be hard to recognize. They may be printed with the names, addresses, and logos of legitimate financial institutions.

“It comes down to making sure consumers are on the alert,” Guzzi said. “They should never feel pressured into wiring funds or sending money after depositing a check.”

If you think you or someone you know was the victim of a fake check scam, do this immediately:
• Contact your local law enforcement agency to report the scam.
• Contact your state’s attorney general. Contact information for each state’s attorney general can be found on the National Association of Attorneys General website.
• File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission. Your complaint will be filed into a secure online database, which is used by many local, state, federal, and international law enforcement agencies. Complaints from consumers help detect patterns of fraud and abuse.
• If you or the victim is an older adult or a person with a disability, contact your local adult protective services agency. You can find local support resources using the online Eldercare Locator or by calling 1-800-677-1116.
Stay alert to avoid scams! If you have any questions, call us at Painesville Credit Union at 440-352-8974.
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