The Federal Trade Commission is warning consumers and businesses to pay close attention to the next check they receive, because it may be a fake.
The FTC says crooks are selling instructions on how to use routing numbers illegally to pay bills and giving instructions on how to print fake checks. For a price, crooks will show you how to commit fraud with a fake check or a check routing number.
"I think it is kind of crazy because as soon as the company that receives the fraudulent check is notified, that the check is no good the customer still owes the bill," said Bruce Whitehurst with Virginia Bankers Association. The bankers association offers these tips and other helpful banking information.
In one variation of the scheme, crooks were telling people they can use a routing number to pay bills online. That number, which belong to the Federal Reserve bank of Atlanta, has been shutdown. Whitehurst says banks and businesses do a good job of prevention but sometimes scammers succeed. He says, "Fraud is out there, it is rampant there is no question but banks have very good detection systems if they are catching 92 percent of attempts."
Here are some warning signs that a check may not be legit. There is no security features like a watermark. The routing number has fewer than nine digits or the bank address is not correct. Consumer advocates say your bank can also tell you if a check is fake.
The scam offer could show up in your inbox or you could get unsolicited phone call. If you are buying illegal instructions on how to obtain fake checks our how to use routing numbers illegally, Whitehurst says beware, there's trouble on two fronts. He says,"You are being scammed. You are actually paying money to still owe money. Anybody that is aware that they are trying to pass a fraudulent check needs to be aware that jail time could be apart of that."
If you feel you are victim, don't attempt to cash the check. If you use it, you will be responsible for the fraudulent funds. Report the scam to your local police department, FBI or your bank. There are no reports of the routing check number scam happening in the Virginia area.
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