Q: I received what appears to be a cashier’s check for an item I sold but I am very scared that it’s not real. How can I tell if this is real and the money really exists?
- Christopher D.
A: With check fraud being a common occurrence, it’s a good move to question the legitimacy of a cashier’s check from strangers.
Although a cashier’s check is considered more secure than personal checks, because the funds in a cashier’s check is held by the issuing bank, scammers can forge counterfeit cashier’s checks.
One of the tell-tale signs of a cashier’s check scam is the payment amount. If the cashier’s check amount is greater than what you’re expecting, and the check writer asks you to send back the amount of the difference, the cashier’s check is most likely a fake.
In this case, the check writer was hoping that you’d send out the funds before you discovered that the cashier’s check was not real.
Or, a scammer could have purchased an item from you and anticipated that you would send out the item while your bank is still the process of confirming a fake cashier’s check. The amount on the fake cashier’s check may even be added to your account balance. But, in a week or two, your bank will find out that the cashier’s check was counterfeit and the deposited funds will be withdrawn.
To confirm that the money actually exists, you should call or visit the bank that issued the cashier’s check.
If you opt to call the bank, do not use any phone number that is printed on the cashier’s check. The phone number on a check could route your call to the scammer, who’ll pose as bank staff when “confirming” the cashier’s check in your hands.
Instead, a quick online search will help you find the right number to call.
Ideally, you are to visit a branch of the issuing bank to confirm the cashier’s check. And, you cash out the check on the spot. Getting the money in your hands immediately is better than taking the cashier’s check back to your bank to be deposited.