July 22, 2014

BBB Press Release

Scam Alert: Fake check and fake job scams are still around

| 6/20/2014

These types of scams have been around for a while with many twists.   Basically, a “scammer” sends a fake check that looks real to consumers.  Consumers then cash the check with their own bank account and send some of the money back to the company.  Meanwhile, the check is fake and the person who deposited the money is out that money plus the money they sent back to the scammer.  Below are some standard tips to help avoid being a victim of a Fake Check and/or Fake Job Scam, both which have cropped up again in the Tampa Bay Area.

Fake CheckFake Check Scam:

Counterfeit check scams are defrauding consumers across the country, according to complaints filed with BBB and state Attorneys General.

The most common type of scheme involves a counterfeit cashier’s check, traditionally considered a trusted form of payment.  Unfortunately, the advent of high quality printers and scanners is making it easier for counterfeiters to produce official-looking checks of all types and caliber, including cashier’s checks.

The problem occurs when a consumer deposits the counterfeit check in a bank account and, a day or so later, asks the financial institution if the money is “available”.  When told yes, the consumer assumes that he/she can safely draw upon that money.  That is not the case!  Until the financial institution can confirm the funds have been “finally collected”, the consumer is responsible for any funds he/she may withdraw against that check deposit.  The amount of time it can take for the bank to finally collect the money can vary, particularly with out-of-state or out-of-country checks.

In most cases, victims report that they wired money to the check issuer only to find that the deposited check bounced and was uncollectible.  This has happened to consumers who were told that they won an international lottery and were advised to pay a clearance fee or taxes out of their “winnings” check; consumers who responded to work-at-home opportunities and were told to deposit a cashier’s check and then wire money elsewhere; and to online auction sellers who accepted certified checks for payment from far-away buyers and sent the merchandise, only to discover later that the checks were counterfeit.

Tips to Avoid Fake Check Scams:

  1. Be wary of checks received from unknown individuals: When selling to someone you don’t know, it is safer to accept cash or credit card payments. 
  2. Do not accept overpayments: Don’t take checks for more than the sales price, no matter what convincing story the buyer tells you. 
  3. Do not wire money to anyone you do not know: Wired money is extremely difficult to trace, and you will not be able to recover these funds. The same goes for pre-paid debit cards, a new favorite payment method for scammers.
  4. Confirm before you withdraw cash: A check can take several days to clear, and, until then, you are responsible for any funds withdrawn against it.  To make sure the check cleared, call your bank . . . not the telephone number listed on the check. 

Fake Check

Fake Job Scam:

Job scams have many different twists.  Scammers may ask job seekers to pay up front for training, which never materializes, or they may "hire" you and send a fake check.  The con artists will instruct you to deduct a fraction for payment and wire the rest back.  Other scams ask you to complete an online application that requests personal identifying information and bank account numbers that can be used for identity theft. 

Tips to Avoid Falling for Fake Job Scams: 

  1. Some positions are more likely to be scams:  Use extra caution when
    looking at ads for jobs with generic titles, such as administrative assistant or customer service representative.  These often don't require special training or licensing, so they appeal to a wide range of applicants.
  2. Watch out for these phrases: "Teleworking OK," "Immediate Start" and "No Experience Needed." Watch out for ads that urge you to apply immediately.
  3. If a job looks suspicious, search for it in Google.  If the result comes up in many other cities with the exact same job post, it is likely a scam.
  4. Be very cautious of any job that asks you to share personal information or hand over money.  Scammers will often use the guise of running a credit check, setting up direct deposit or paying for training.
  5. Check out the business' website to make sure the opening is posted there.  If you are still skeptical, call the business to check on the position.  Don't rely on websites or phone numbers provided in the advertisement; find the "employer" on your own to make sure it's the real deal.

To check the reliability of a company, visit BBB.org.

 

BBB is an unbiased non-profit organization that sets and upholds high standards for fair and honest business behavior. Businesses that earn BBB accreditation contractually agree and adhere to the organization’s high standards of ethical business behavior. BBB provides objective advice, free BBB Business Reviews® and BBB Wise Giving Reports®, and educational information on topics affecting marketplace trust. To further promote trust, BBB also offers complaint and dispute resolution support for consumers and businesses when there is a difference in viewpoints. For more than 100 years, Better Business Bureau has been helping consumers find businesses, brands and charities they can trust. In 2013, people turned to BBB more than 132 million times for BBB Business Reviews on more than 4.5 million businesses and Charity Reports on 11,000 charities, all available for free at bbb.org.   
The Better Business Bureau Serving West Florida is one of 112 local, independent BBBs across North America that provide business reviews on companies within its 11 county service area.  These counties include: Hernando, Pasco, Pinellas, Hillsborough, Manatee, Sarasota, Hardee, Desoto, Charlotte, Lee & Collier.

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