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3 Signs of a Fraudulent Check you Absolutely Must Know

Chris Gottschalk

Chris Gottschalk About The Author

Apr 21, 2022 4:45:00 AM

One of the most popular types of fraud among scammers in recent months is check fraud. It’s not hard to see why, either. Advancements in technology have made creating checks almost absurdly easy, and criminals have discovered that paper checks are such a low priority for most people that it’s easy to overlook a box or two going missing in the mail.

To make check fraud even more appealing is the fact that there’s no risk to scammers who fool a victim into cashing a fraudulent check. That means you need to be aware of whether or not a check you receive is fraudulent before you cash it. Fortunately, there are three ways you can ensure that any check is legitimate.

Make Sure the Financial Institution is Real

woman on a smartphoneThe first way to verify a check is also one of the easiest. All you have to do is get online and do a web search to see if the bank actually exists. This might sound absurdly simple, but many scammers send checks from a bank that at least sounds plausible, like First National Bank of Aurora or J & J Credit Union (neither of these actually exist).

If you want to be extra sure that the financial institution exists, use the BankFind tool offered by the FDIC or the Research a Credit Union page offered by the NCUA.

Contact the Bank or Credit Union

If the bank or credit union actually exists, your next step should be to pick up your phone and give them a call. Be sure to only use the customer service number on the financial institution’s website, though—any contact information on the check might be fake as well.

Once you reach someone at the bank or credit union, tell them you need help making sure they issued the check, and give them the check number, date and amount. That should be enough information for them to tell you if the check is legit.

Take a Look at the Check

Woman examining a paper checkFinally, take a look at the check itself. While many scammers can create a check that looks convincing at first glance, a closer look can reveal some flaws in counterfeits. Watermarks on a fake check, for instance, are usually poor quality.

You might also be able to tell a check is counterfeit by looking at the edges. Many checks have at least one perforated edge from where they were torn off in the check book, so a check that has no perforated edges might mean it was generated by a printer.

Finally, also look for missing information, including:

  • A financial institution logo
  • The financial institution’s address and contact information
  • A check number

A check that misses any of these is probably not legitimate.

Protect Yourself From Fraud With First Alliance Credit Union

Check fraud has become a major problem in recent months, which means you need to make sure any check you want to cash is legitimate. Fortunately, there are some easy ways to tell if a check is fake.

If you’re a member of First Alliance Credit Union, you can help protect yourself from check fraud by taking advantage of the tools and resources we offer to help prevent scams. Get discounts on identity theft protection from our trusted partners at LegalShield and monitor your account with our online banking platform and mobile app. If you believe you’ve been the victim of a scam, talk with a First Alliance advisor to learn what options you have and figure out your next steps.

Become a First Alliance member today! Get Started

We do our best to provide helpful information but we cannot guarantee the accuracy or completeness of the information presented in the article, under no circumstance does the information provided constitute legal advice. You are responsible for independently verifying the information if you intend to use it in any way. Additionally, the content is not intended to be reflective of First Alliance Credit Union’s products or services, for accurate and complete details about our product and service information you must speak to an advisor at First Alliance Credit Union.