Stay vigilant to spot the warning signs of financial fraud

A cashier's check is issued by a financial institution and sold to its purchaser. Genuine cashier's checks are viewed as relatively low-risk instruments since they are paid by funds of the bank, so many people use them as a trusted form of payment. However, when scammers use fraudulent cashier's checks to pay you for goods and services, you will likely suffer financial loss once the check returns unpaid. Finding remedy from these scammers may be very difficult, particularly if they use a fake identity or are in a foreign country.

Avoiding Cashier's Check Fraud

  • Whenever possible, verify a buyer's information with a third party and be cautious about who you accept checks from.
  • If you sell goods or services on the Internet, consider using a third party payment service that can verify payments from buyers, rather than accepting cashier's checks.
  • Never accept cashier's checks for a larger amount then the selling price if the buyer asks you to pay the excess amount to someone else. If the check is fraudulent, you will be at a loss.
  • If you question the authenticity of a cashier's check, call or visit the issuing bank. They will be in a better position to tell you if the check is fraudulent or not.
  • Be wary of taking action before you know that the payment you received has actually cleared your bank account.
  • Steer clear of offers asking you to pay for a "prize", letters offering you large sums of money in exchange for a "processing fee", or anyone who pressures you to act quickly before you have time to verify a good payment.

Scammers may create fake financial institutions in the United States or foreign countries. They may attempt to contact consumers using fraudulent phone numbers, email addresses or websites in order to collect sensitive confidential information about your bank account or credit cards. To view listings of fraudulent banks and related alerts, visit (Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, U.S. Department of the Treasury) or (Federal Trade Commission).

Identity Theft is a serious crime that affects millions of Americans each year. It happens when someone uses your personal information like your name, date of birth and Social Security Number without your permission to commit fraud or other crimes. Criminals can obtain your information with a number of methods such as dumpster diving, skimming, phishing, medical benefit fraud, social networking sites, old-fashioned stealing, and pretexting.

Signs of Identity Theft

  • Unexplained bank account withdrawals or charges
  • Missing bills or other mail
  • Your checks or cards are declined by merchants
  • Mysterious debts
  • Medical bills for services you did not use
  • More than one tax filing in your name, or record of an employer you've never worked for

Tips for Avoiding Identity Theft

  • Do not dispose of ATM receipts, credit card statements, cards or statements in usable form.
  • Don't give out credit card information over the phone unless you are initiating the call.
  • Keep phone numbers on hand to report lost or stolen credit cards.
  • Immediately report any suspicious transactions to your financial institution, credit card company, and police as soon as you discover them.
  • Keep accurate records of health care appointments and carefully review your insurance explanation of benefits.
  • Review your credit report at least once per year. Visit to access your free credit reports.

Scam artists want to get hold of your sensitive personal information to commit identity theft or directly steal funds from your accounts. They may use text messages, emails, pop-up messages, or recorded messages with keypad entry to trick you into giving up this information. Often times fraudsters claim that a credit card has been deactivated, account has been overcharged, or account or identity needs to be verified.

Tips for Avoiding a Phishing Attack

  • Install antivirus software and make sure it stays up to date.
  • Avoid emailing personal or financial information.
  • Only submit financial information on websites where you typed the address in yourself and the URL is secure, such as "https".
  • Check your debit and credit card statements for unauthorized charges as soon as you receive them.
  • Be cautious when opening attachments or clicking on links in emails to avoid downloading malware, which can allow criminals to capture sensitive information.
  • Do not reply to suspicious text messages or emails asking you to respond with your financial information. Financial Institutions will never contact you in this manner.

The Federal Trade Commission is a great resource for learning about national security and identity theft news. Research any of the topics below to learn more.