Thieves are getting better than ever at duping victims with fake checks.

Who Is It Targeting: Anyone accepting payment for a good, service, donation, or prize

What Is It:  A new twist on a very old fake check scam

What Are They After: For years, advocates have warned the public about fake check scams in which you receive payment by check and deposit it, then are asked—for a variety of ever-changing reasons, such as accidental overpayment—to return a portion of the funds; other variations may include payment via check for something you’ve sold, such as a car.

The check is a fake, but you don’t discover that until you’ve returned a portion of the funds, signed over the title to the car, or some other way in which you’ve relinquished your money or items. Consumers were warned to always verify the validity of the account before doing anything.

Now, scammers have gotten around that advice by opening a legitimate account and keeping the full amount of the check in the account. Once they receive notification that the check has been deposited, they withdraw all of their funds from the account, leaving you with bounced check fees, missing funds that you’ve withdrawn from your account, or other loss.

How Can You Avoid It:

  • Again, verifying the account is a good first step before you take any action.
  • If you’re selling an item, you can insist on a hold on the check or even better, a cashier’s check.
  • If anyone ever asks you to return a portion of the amount for any reason, pause and ask yourself why. Give it time to process before you even consider it.

If you think you may be a victim of identity theft, contact the Identity Theft Resource Center for toll-free, no-cost assistance at (888) 400-5530. Find more information about current scams and alerts here. For full details of this scam check out this article from