Inevitably, when we look into the checks and the companies or scammers that issued them, they turn out to be either outright scams or tricky promotions to lure residents to sales pitches at a local hotel meeting room.
The checks are usually fake, though some look good enough to pass a quick first inspection. They also often carry the names of legitimate banks and companies that actually have nothing to do with the scam.
The best thing to do if you receive an unexpected check in the mail is examine it carefully and ask yourself, “am I expecting a payment?”
If the answer is no, throw it away, especially if the check comes with a fee or request for personal information in order to activate it.
This opens the consumer to phishing scams, where personal information is used to commit identity theft as well as financial loss if fees are paid to activate checks that are not real.
If the check is in conjunction with a lottery or sweepstakes, it is likely a scam. This is especially true if you have not entered a contest of chance.
If the envelope that the check arrived in has an overseas postmark ( Canada, Europe, Asia, South America, etc.), throw it away. It is an illegal scam operating in another country out of reach of the FBI and/or Federal Trade Commission.
It is also wise to use your better sense. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is and rarely is something given away without a catch or fee.
Checks coming in the mail or through business dealings or consumer websites such as Craigslist often come with instructions to deposit them and return a portion of the money. THIS IS A SCAM!
These checks usually are returned NSF and you lose the portion you wired back to the scammer, plus you are responsible for all bank fees and overdraft charges associated with the bad check. You are also often times left open to phishing scams or identity theft.
If you are in doubt, please show the check to a bank teller or manager. They are expert at identifying scam checks and saving their customers from economic hardship and heartache.
Also, remember to Start With Trust. Check with your Better Business Bureau at bbb.org before doing business!