Every year the number of check deposit scams in the US increase, and the truth is even those who consider themselves skeptical might fall victim if they’re not careful. Because this happens more often than you may realize, it’s crucial that you learn how to guard yourself again fake check scams.

Common Indicators of a Check Fraud

One of the most common signs of check fraud is if you are asked to deposit a check in their account and wire the cash minus the "commission" for you. A second indicator, and one that you’ve probably have heard is you just got an inheritance after the death of a distant relative, but you have to pay "legal fees" before you can claim the money.

A variation of this is when you get an email informing you that you "won" the lottery but have to send money for the "processing fee". Another trick that scammers use is to offer to pay more for the actual cost of the item you bought, but they will do it by check.

How Fake Check Scams Work

These scammers find their victims by checking online classifieds or newspapers, looking for people who are selling something or hunting for a job. The criminal will put out an ad with their contact number or send email randomly to thousands of people, waiting for someone to reply. If you respond, they’ll try to earn your trust by showing checks that look real or from business or individual accounts.

After you wire cash from your account or withdraw, your bank will discover that the check was fraudulent. The check will then be sent back to your bank and the money will be deducted off your account. Since you’re the one liable for deposited checks, you will be the one who has to pay the full amount.

While there are different kinds of check fraud, the one essential ingredient is that someone is going to offer to send a check, money order or cashier’s check that is more than the amount you need. The overpayment is a common feature used to entice you. The final step is when they ask you to wire transfer the cash off your account via a wire transfer service.

Remember that these inflated value check schemes will vary in the delivery and approach because they know their methods have been exposed. For instance, if that scheme is work at home, they will say you’re processing customer checks by way of deposits then wire their money minus your commission. Don’t believe it because it is not true no matter how "credible" the person seems to be.

How to Protect Yourself

The easiest way to protect yourself is to never agree to a sale where the buyer asks you to accept a check for an amount greater than the item’s price and then ask you to refund the excess amount. More to the point, if someone gives you money and then asks you to wire cash back, say no.

If someone asks to pay for an item, insist on a check for the exact amount and from a bank near you. You should also pay no attention to those emails or text messages claiming you won the lottery but have to pay a processing fee. In other words, if a stranger offers to pay you money but asks you to wire some money in return, it’s a fraud.

And if you think you’ve fallen victim to such a scam, don’t deposit the check and report it to your bank.

Author Bio: Vanessa C. Gould is a bank and finance expert who has more than 16 years experience writing articles detailing how to guard yourself again fake check scams. She is also a freelance writer and lives in Oklahoma City. Apart from those tips, you can also order checks from cheapchecksplus.com to ensure you don’t get scammed.