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
The 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).
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
Finally, 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.