State agencies, banks warn against check scams

By Andy Jenks - bio | email
Posted by Terry Alexander - email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Local banks are arming you with new information to help prevent big mistakes.

They look legit. They have all the right numbers. And sometimes, they arrive from your favorite places. But it's all part, of the evolving art...of check scamming.

Elaine Lidholm is with the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

"It's a matter of a system built on trust, a gullible population in some cases, and a population that's, in many cases, desperate," Lidholm said.

The number of victims is growing. Their average losses: $3,000-$4,000, which is now getting the full attention of government leaders and local banks.

To fight the problem, the banks are giving out free brochures at the exact places were customers are likely to get into the most trouble.

"Which is, at the bank," Lidholm said.

The brochures remind customers who make deposits that unexpected, genuine-looking checks are almost certainly not what they appear to be.

"It's primarily sweepstakes, work at home offers, sometimes it even takes the form of telling people they're getting a government grant," Lidholm said.

Furthermore, they caution against any form of communication that asks you to send money, like a so-called "processing fee", to someone you've never heard of before.

But will a glossy piece of paper, be enough to prevent the next crime? Perhaps, only if it's combined with common sense.

"If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is," Lidholm said.

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