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Don't Get Scammed!
Don't Get Scammed!
2/22/2011 11:47:38 AM
You’ve just won a contest you don’t even remember entering! You got a letter in the mail explaining everything – and a cashier’s check to cover all the taxes and fees. All you have to do is deposit the check and wire some or all of the money back to the sender to pay for the taxes and fees. Once they receive your payment, you’re guaranteed to get the rest of your prize.
The catch – this is a scam.

The check, as convincing as it looks, is counterfeit. The entire contest angle is a scheme to get you to wire money to someone you don’t know. If you deposit the check and wire the money, your bank will soon notify you that the check is fake. And you’re out the money because money you wire cannot be retrieved, and you’re responsible for the checks you deposit – even if you don’t know they are fake.

This is just one example of a counterfeit check scam. The Federal Trade Commission, the nation’s consumer protection agency, has the following suggestions to avoid a counterfeit check scam:
• Throw away any offer that asks you to pay for a prize or a gift. If it’s free or a gift, you shouldn’t have to pay for it. Free is free.
• Resist the urge to enter foreign lotteries. It’s illegal to play a foreign lottery through the mail or the telephone, and most foreign lottery solicitations are phony.
• Know who you’re dealing with, and never wire money to strangers.
• If you’re selling something, don’t accept a check for more than the selling price, no matter how tempting the offer or how convincing the story. Ask the buyer to write the check for the correct amount. If the buyer refuses to send the correct amount, return the check. Don’t send the merchandise.
• If you accept payment by check, ask for a check drawn on a local bank, or a bank with a local branch. That way, you can make a personal visit to make sure the check is valid. If that’s not possible, call the bank where the check was purchased, and ask if it is valid. Get the bank’s phone number from directory assistance or an Internet site that you know and trust, not from the check or from the person who gave you the check.
• If the buyer insists that you wire back funds, end the transaction immediately. Legitimate buyers don’t pressure you to send money by wire transfer services. In addition, you have little recourse if there’s a problem with a wire transaction.
• Resist any pressure to “act now.” If the buyer’s offer is good now, it should be good after the check clears.

It all boils down to the old adage - if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is!
Click here for more information about this story.
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