It can be difficult to spot a fake cashier’s check. Many fake cashier’s checks appear legitimate, even to banks. There are only a few techniques you can apply to determine if a cashier’s check is legitimate.

Cashier’s check

First take a look at the perforated, or jagged edge. Checks come in rolls so there should be a perforated edge. If it does not appear to have come from a roll or book, then it is most likely a fake.

Next, take a look at the MICR (Magnetic Ink Character Recognition) numbers located on the bottom of the cashier’s check. This is on every cashier’s check and is clearly printed. If the numbers appear blurry, crooked, or smeared, then it is another visible sign that the cashier’s check is a fake. Legitimate checks have a microprint signature line with no text underneath. There is also a microprint border around the four edges of a real check.

Real checks have a watermark on the back, but the problem with the watermark is that it can be printed on homemade checks. Cashier’s checks without watermarks are clearly fakes.

Other considerations

Consider the circumstances in which you obtained the cashier’s check. Chances are if a friend or someone you personally know gave you the check, then it is probably real. Most counterfeit cashier’s checks come from people selling items online. There is a common scam of people sending fake cashier’s checks through the mail.

Basically, fraudsters will try to give you a check for an amount that greatly exceeds your asking price for the item you have for sale. The buyer will ask you to ship the item along with the difference of the overpaid amount paid to you. When you go to the bank to cash the check, it will most likely clear. The problem is that it could take weeks for the bank to realize that they check was a fake, resulting in a loss of funds for you.

Here is an example of this scam

Joe Money posted his used bicycle online for sale for $500. A person claiming to be from a different country will respond to the email already verifying that they are interested in purchasing the item, and for a considerable price. The scammer will ask for Joe Money’s address so that they can ship him his payment. The payment arrives in the mail in the form of a $1,500 cashier’s check.

Joe Money then receives an email stating he was sent a higher amount for the item and to just send him or her back the balance of what was overpaid. In this instance, Joe  does not know about this scam and goes to the bank and deposits the cashier’s check. It clears and the balance is in his account a few days later. He decides to go ahead and write a check of $1,000 to cover the balance of what was overpaid and ship the bicycle to the fraudster, who gets both the bike and the money.

Unfortunately for Joe, his bank will realize two or three weeks later that the cashier’s check was a fake. An amount of $1,500 is taken out of Joe Money’s account because of this. So now he is left without a bike and $1,500 less in his bank account.

This is a scam that fools a lot of people. Remember, if the amount sent to you was much more than what was requested, chances are the check is fake.

If you are having trouble figuring out if a cashier’s check is valid or not, then head to the bank yourself. Ask your teller to give their opinion on whether or not the cashier’s check is real. He or she should be able to give you an idea on the validity of the check.

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