About Wiring Money
Back After Cashing a Check
The set-up for the scam can be different every time: maybe they
are buying something you advertised, paying you to do work at home,
or giving you an “advance” on a sweepstakes. But, the
Federal Trade Commission and the National Consumers League warn
that after the initial hook, all “check overpayment”
scams end the same way – with a request for you to wire money
back. The scams are the fifth most common telemarketing fraud and
the fourth most common Internet scam reported to the NCL.
Here is how the scam operates: the person you are doing business
with sends you a check for more than the amount they owe you, and
then instructs you to wire the balance back to them. Or, they send
a check, and tell you to deposit it, keep part of the amount for
your own compensation, and then wire the rest back for one reason
or another. The results are the same: the check eventually bounces,
and you’re stuck, responsible for the full amount, including
what you wired to the scammer.
The checks in these scams are fake, but they look real enough to
fool bankers. The FTC and NCL offer these tips for avoiding check
Know who you’re dealing with – independently confirm
your buyer’s name, street address, and telephone number.
If you’re selling something over the Internet, say “no”
to a check for more than your selling price, no matter how tempting
the plea or convincing the story.
There is no legitimate reason for someone who is giving you money
to ask you to wire money back.
These tips, and others, are available online from the FTC as part
of the section on cross-border fraud of OnGuardOnline.gov, and from
the National Consumers League at fraud.org. OnGuard Online is a
multimedia, interactive consumer education campaign launched last
fall by the FTC and a partnership of other federal agencies, the
technology industry, and consumer advocacy organizations including
the NCL. The site covers online safety topics, including spyware,
identity theft, spam, and cross-border scams. There is no copyright
on the quizzes or other information on OnGuardOnline.gov; companies
and organizations can download the information and use it in their
own computer security programs.
Consumers should report check overpayment scams to their state Attorney
General, the National Fraud Information Center/Internet Fraud Watch,
a service of the National Consumers League at www.fraud.org or 1-800-876-7060,
or the FTC at www.ftc.gov or 1-877-FTC-HELP.
The FTC works for the consumer to prevent fraudulent, deceptive,
and unfair business practices in the marketplace and to provide
information to help consumers spot, stop, and avoid them. To file
a complaint in English or Spanish (bilingual counselors are available
to take complaints), or to get free information on any of 150 consumer
topics, call toll-free, 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357), or use
the complaint form at http://www.ftc.gov/ftc/complaint.htm. The
FTC enters Internet, telemarketing, identity theft, and other fraud-related
complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available
to hundreds of civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the
U.S. and abroad.
© Contacto Magazine - September 28, 2006