We get a ton of calls from victims of check scams. So we wanted to get to the bottom of why so many people get fooled. Turns out, scammers know a key piece of information that you may not and they're banking on your ignorance.
We look into why money can show up in your account even when it's not legit in this seven on your side consumer watch.
All too often we hear stories like these.
'I was heartsick because I had borrowed this money from my son," said Dorothy Smith in Anderson.
She lost thousands to a scammer charging fees for bogus lottery winnings.
Janet Keller got a check to be a mystery shopper.
"And they really make it sound real and the check, it looks real," said Keller.
They're scams Nancy Hernandez with SC Telco Federal Credit Union has heard time and again. We learned why these bogus checks can slip through the cracks.
We learned a lot of people may think if you accept a check then it's legitimate, that's not always the case.
"No it's not, until it actually clears the bank that it's drawn on, we aren't going to know whether it's a legitimate check and it can take anywhere from 5-10 days before we receive any information back on that check. So no it is not necessarily legitimate because we accept it," said Nancy Hernandez with SC Telco Federal Credit Union.
"In the last 5 years just under 2 million dollars in fraudulent checks have been presented to these tellers and that's just this credit union."
The tellers have even detected a pattern:
The most common amounts for the bogus checks are roughly.
Almost all include some change to seem more legitimate.
Many of the fake checks are caught with the help of this machine which can detect whether an account is valid. But it's not foolproof.
Keller says when you haven't earned the money...
"Please do not take any checks you get in the mail to the bank."
And if you must, at least wait 10 days to make sure the funds are really there.
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