(REUTERS/Kacper Pempel )
You open your mail and you will find something unbelievable: a cheque for $10,000. Do you think that it is an advertisement, but then you realize that it is authentic. You would actually money this piece of paper for real money. And you wonder: Is this a scam?
Check fraud is on the rise lately, perhaps because of this outdated monetary system is not as popular as it used to be, and the receivers are less defensive than they used to be. The checks take longer to clear than cards and wire transfers, so the victims often need more time to realize something is wrong.
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As reported by the Better Business Bureau, billions of dollars in fake checks are distributed each year. They seem to come from legitimate companies and are sent to the victims, together with a seemingly simple offer.
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The offer you should refuse
Here is an example: Auriyon Jacobs is a student at the university of Oakland, California. She got a note with an offer to advertise for PepsiCo. Thought it of a fellow student, she applied for the unusual publicity job: all they had to do was stick a Mountain Dew ad on her car to earn $250 per week.
Jacobs told CBS News the offer was made to represent, PepsiCo, and after sending in her application, she received a cheque of almost $5000. Along with that, they had instructions to withdraw the $3,500 and deposit them into the alleged scammer’s account, you know, to cover the installation of the ad on her car.
They withdrew the money and, shortly afterwards, was warned by her bank that the check they deposited was fake. However, Jacobs was $3,500. They had hoped to have this money aside for her lessons.
Check scams are not always run around a vacancy; sometimes revolves around sweepstakes or grants, technical support, online purchases or to rent.
The stolen routing number
Randy, one of my listeners, recently wrote me with this story: “Last week my wife and I were notified by our bank that they received a digital “control” in the neighborhood of $15,000 for the goods purchased by means of Ground’s website. The “check” was the track of the account numbers, complete address and the name of our bank. The check looked like one of our minus a different name in use.”
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But that was not all; Randy also learned from a Capital of A credit card is used to withdraw money from his account. He had never heard of the card, and he quickly put an end to. He called the Ground’s fraud hotline and received a quick and professional response. All the money is refunded, ” he says.
Randy and his wife were lucky, and he told me that he is now more vigilant of his / her data. A routing and account number can go a long way, especially if hackers are able to discern what to learn more about you. Digital controls are easier to forge, but the physical checks can be printed at almost everywhere, and with the right combination of bank-info, a sophisticated thief can do a lot of damage.
Randy said something else: When he had called the Ground’s fraud department, the service rep claimed to have seen three similar check scams that week.
How bad is it?
The Better Business Bureau noted that the one thing every scam has in common is fraudulent checks, which may not be identified as a fake until days after they are deposited. There were nearly 30,000 fake check complaints filed in 2017, with people reporting losses of almost $38 million.
People in their 20s good for 21 percent of the complaints over the last two years. According to CBS News, the postal inspection service said it seized $62 billion of fake cheques in 2017.
What to avoid
Like all identity theft, the burden of proof is on you to protect yourself. The Better Business Bureau states that one of the best ways to avoid falling prey to the scam is to be very careful when receiving a check from someone you do not know. Do what you can to verify where it came from and why you have it, as that will go a long way in the direction of make sure everything is copacetic.
In the meantime, if you deposit a seemingly random check, that is not a friend or family member and has nothing to do with payroll, wait at least two weeks to make sure it cleared before spending. In this way, if it is fake and it bounces, you will in any case not out any of your money.
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Learn about the latest technology on the Kim Komando Show, the nation’s largest weekend radio talk show. Kim takes calls and provides advice on today’s digital lifestyle, from smartphones and tablets to online privacy and data hacks. For her daily tips, newsletters and more, visit her website at Komando.com.