Identifying, Avoiding, and Reporting Fake Check Scams

Fake check scams have become a widespread problem in today’s financial landscape. Understanding how to spot, avoid, and report these scams is essential for protecting personal and business finances. This article provides insights into recognizing fake checks, preventing scams, and taking action if targeted.

 Recognizing Fake Check Scams

Fake check scams often involve a scenario where the scammer sends a counterfeit check and requests the recipient to deposit it. Shortly after, the scammer asks the recipient to return a portion of the money or make a payment for various reasons. The check eventually bounces, leaving the recipient responsible for the fraudulent funds.

Common signs of fake check scams include:

  1. Unexpected Checks: Receiving a check unexpectedly, especially from someone unknown or a company not previously dealt with, is a red flag.
  2. Overpayment Requests: Scammers might overpay for an item or service and ask for the difference to be sent back.
  3. Urgency: Scammers often create a sense of urgency, pressuring recipients to act quickly before the check clears.

 How to Avoid Fake Check Scams?

Taking preventative measures can significantly reduce the risk of falling victim to fake check scams. Here are some steps to avoid these scams:

  • Verify the Source: Always verify the legitimacy of the sender. Contact the bank or company directly using official contact information, not the details provided with the check.
  • Wait for Clearance: Wait for the check to fully clear before spending any of the money. This process can take several days, and rushing can lead to financial loss.
  • Be Skeptical: Be cautious of checks received from unknown sources, especially those involving unsolicited job offers, lottery winnings, or large purchases.

 What to Do If Targeted by a Fake Check Scam?

If targeted by a fake check scam, taking immediate action is crucial. Here’s what to do:

  • Do Not Deposit: If suspicious, do not deposit the check. Contact the bank for verification.
  • Report to Authorities: Report the scam to relevant authorities, such as the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and local law enforcement. This helps prevent others from becoming victims.
  • Inform the Bank: Notify the bank immediately if a fake check has been deposited. They can provide guidance on the next steps and help mitigate any potential losses.

 Reporting Fake Check Scams

Reporting fake check scams is vital in combating this type of fraud. Here’s how to report:

  • Federal Trade Commission (FTC): File a complaint with the FTC, which tracks and investigates scams.
  • Local Law Enforcement: Contact local police to report the scam, providing them with all relevant details and documentation.
  • Postal Inspection Service: If the fake check was sent through the mail, report it to the United States Postal Inspection Service.

 eCheck and Its Security

While discussing fake check scams, it’s worth noting the security of digital payment methods like echeck. eChecks use encryption and authentication to protect against fraud, providing a secure alternative to traditional paper checks. However, staying vigilant and following best practices for financial transactions is always important, regardless of the payment method.


Fake check scams are a prevalent issue, but understanding how to recognize, avoid, and report them can protect individuals and businesses. By verifying sources, waiting for checks to clear, and reporting suspicious activity, one can minimize the risk of falling victim to these scams. Remember, taking proactive steps and staying informed is the best defense against financial fraud.