Check scammers trick victims by mailing counterfeit checks in the victim’s name, claiming they overpaid for some service or purchase. The scammers then request that the overpaid money can be returned by way of a money order or cash.

The scammer offers to buy an item for several hundred dollars (or more), but uses a counterfeit check. Once the check is delivered, the check scammer claims they mistakenly overpaid the agreed-upon amount. The scammer then simply requests the recipient/victim cash or deposit the check and return the difference of overpayment via a money order or cash. When the check is processed, the victim receives a call or email from the bank, informing the victim that the counterfeit check deposited did not clear, causing the account to become overdrawn.

Here are tips to avoid check scams:

• Confirm before you withdraw cash: A check can take several days to clear, and, until then, you are responsible for any funds withdrawn against it. To make sure the check cleared, call your bank.

• Be wary of checks received from unknown individuals: When selling to someone you don’t know, it is safer to accept PayPal, cash or credit-card payments.

• Do not accept overpayments: When selling on or similar sites, don’t take more than the sales price, no matter what convincing story the buyer tells you.

• Check your online bank statements frequently.Don’t wait for monthly statements. If you see something you don’t recognize, call your financial institution immediately.

Read more about check scams and banking apps on National Consumers League’s To find out more about other scams, check out BBB Scam Stopper.

Tips for avoiding other common fraud schemes can be located on the following Federal Bureau of Investigation website:

If you have any questions or if you are a victim of a fraud, contact your local law enforcement office.