BBB Warns of Check Overpayment Scam Targeting Home Based Business Consultants

April 23, 2014

April 22, 2014 - Tyler, Texas Better Business Bureau Serving Central East Texas (BBB) is warning home based business consultants from popular companies targeting unsuspecting sales representatives. This scam is a new twist on the "check overpayment scam" the BBB has investigated in the past.

According to complainants, consultants are contacted by an individual via email asking to purchase products and the parties engage in an email back and forth about the products and purchasing procedures. Sometimes it is a straight request for products and other times, they indicate their own sales representative is not available.

The process of ordering progresses in a typical fashion, until the “consumer” sends an email about an urgent situation involving them having to “overpay” the consultant by check and asking the consultant to cash the check, keep the amount for the merchandise and then wire the remainder of the amount back to the “consumer.” As with many other fake check scams, the check looks very authentic and the sender mentions some sort of hardship or urgent situation that necessitates the one receiving the check to send money back, almost always via a wire service.

BBB is warning home based business consultants to be wary of customers who send checks for amounts much greater than the product or service being purchased. The business could fall victim to a "check overpayment scam" if the customer requests a return of the excess funds. Businesses that deposit the customer checks ultimately find out they are counterfeit. Unfortunately, that fact is discovered after the check is initially accepted for deposit by the bank and, the business has forwarded the "overpayment" to the scammer, leaving the business liable for the losses.

The BBB offers businesses this advice on accepting checks from unknown parties,

  • Know who you’re dealing with. In any transaction, independently confirm the buyer’s name, street address and telephone number.
  • Don't assume that the check is legitimate, even if it’s a cashier’s check, just because your bank accepts it for deposit. It may take weeks for the bank to learn that it is counterfeit.
  • Don’t accept a check for more than the purchase price of the product or service, no matter how tempting. Ask the buyer to write the check for the correct amount. If the buyer refuses to send the correct amount, return the check and do not send the merchandise.
  • You are the party who is ultimately liable to your financial institution. Be careful!
  • Verify all bank checks, as well as certified checks, with the issuing bank. Get the bank’s phone number from directory assistance or an internet site that you know to be reputable, not from the person who gave you the check. If in doubt, you may want to ask for a check drawn on a local bank, or a bank with a local branch.

If you suspect that your business has been the victim of a check overpayment scam, you may file a complaint with IC3 and your attorney general.

For more tips on how to be a savvy consumer, go to To report fraudulent activity or unscrupulous business practices, call the BBB Hotline: (903)581-8373.