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Fake checks drive many types of scams – like those involving phony prize wins, fake jobs, mystery shoppers, online classified ad sales, and others. In a fake check scam, a person you don’t know asks you to deposit a check – sometimes for several thousand dollars and usually for more than what you are owed – and wire some of the money back to that person. The scammers always have a good story to explain the overpayment – they’re stuck out of the country, they need you to cover taxes or fees, you need to buy supplies, or something else. But by the time your bank discovers you’ve deposited a bad check, the scammer already has the money you sent, and you’re stuck paying the rest of the check back to the bank.

The Federal Trade Commission receives tens of thousands of reports each year about fake checks. Over the last three years, the number of complaints has steadily increased, and so have the dollars lost.

The FTC’s new infographic, developed with the American Bankers Association Foundation, offers some tip-offs to rip-offs and what to do if you get a check from someone you don’t know.

Please share this information with others. Victims may be embarrassed to talk about their experiences, but you can help. A simple phone call, email or text, saying “Look what I just found” and sharing this information may make a difference in someone else’s life.

Want to avoid the latest rip-offs? Sign up for free consumer alerts from the FTC at

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The purpose of this blog and its comments section is to inform readers about Federal Trade Commission activity, and share information to help them avoid, report, and recover from fraud, scams, and bad business practices. Your thoughts, ideas, and concerns are welcome, and we encourage comments. But keep in mind, this is a moderated blog. We review all comments before they are posted, and we won’t post comments that don’t comply with our commenting policy. We expect commenters to treat each other and the blog writers with respect.

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  • We won’t post comments that include personal information, like Social Security numbers, account numbers, home addresses, and email addresses. To file a detailed report about a scam, go to

We don't edit comments to remove objectionable content, so please ensure that your comment contains none of the above. The comments posted on this blog become part of the public domain. To protect your privacy and the privacy of other people, please do not include personal information. Opinions in comments that appear in this blog belong to the individuals who expressed them. They do not belong to or represent views of the Federal Trade Commission.

May 20, 2020

In reply to by mmteagan

Can you let me know how this issue was resolved? I'm in a similar situation currently.
May 24, 2021

In reply to by Scammed

I just received a check in the mail via UPS and it's supposed to be a secret shopper job. They send me a check and than I'm supposed to go to 2 different Walmarts buy 4 cards load them they are supposed to be apple cards and then take pictures send it back to them. How do I know if this is a fake check or scam?
November 25, 2019

In reply to by FTC Staff

What if bank release all the amount on the check immediately and found later it's a fake check? And if it was deposited electronically by scammer?
September 05, 2018
Why is Federal Trade Commission not doing anything to hold bankers accountable for taking checks, and not using technologies to test the check? Banks by now should have high level technologies to prevent Tellers from taking and depositing fake checks. Who is outsmarting who? Where is the FBI in this? Why are there thousand of claims but nothing legal is done to hold Banks responsible, too.
September 06, 2018

In reply to by WantRealSolutions

No such technology exists. The bad guys can purchase check stock from any office supply store, enter stolen information into software such as Quickbooks and create checks to send out. The bank accepting the deposit via a teller or mobile deposit through an app has no idea who owns the account or what valid signature should look like. The bank the check is drawn on will not share information citing their customer privacy. So all the bank can do is deposit the check and wait. The FTC correctly points out that ththe consumer is responsible for knowing from whom they are receiving funds.
October 03, 2018

In reply to by WantRealSolutions

First off a check is nothing but a promise. It is not as good as cash. Trust me, as someone who works for one of the largest credit unions in the US, we do everything we can to avoid accepting fraudulent checks. What high level technology are you referring to? Due to privacy restrictions, we often cannot confirm that a check drawn off another institution is legitimate or that the funds are available. Financial institutions do not disclose that kind of information to outside parties. There is often check fraud where the accounts the checks are drawn off are legitimate but have been altered or forged. A bank can't possibly know if every personal check that is accepted has not been forged or altered. There are several things that we look at to make sure, but ultimately it is up to the consumer as to whether to accept payment as a check. This is the main purpose of placing a hold on the funds until we can be sure. This protects both us and the consumer. You should never accept a check from a untrustworthy source. If you aren't sure, don't immediately spend the money that is made available from the check. A check can return for MULTIPLE reasons. They can be fake, forged, stolen, altered, post dated, stale dated, or canceled by stop payment. If you are buying from someone you don't know, you're better off using a digital source like paypal or cash. No can't rely on everyone else to protect you.
Frequent Flyer
September 06, 2018
I’m very glad the CFC is taking more and more of a stand (sort of speak) against this type of fraud. These people who partake in these scans are relentless. Example; Something very similar I’ve been going through for more than 4 years now and something that has no logical reason or explanation for its continuation. If you can imagine, I used to enter sweepstakes for about 3-4 years. Just for fun. However I’ve stopped the last couple years, and told them I was giving up and didn’t believe anyone ever wins any of their sweeps. Now even To this day I continue to get letters from different companies who all reference the exact same same amount of unclaimed prize monies on file and registered in my name!l for over 2m dollars. They all show the exact same prices. There is no fee to enter, but a small discovery (or administration fee) for their report which they’ll send me. It boggles the mind why multiple places would continue wasting their time sending these notices to an individual like me who made it clear years ago that I would not pay them any money. Can anyone else make sense of it???? There are millions of people they could request money from who don’t know what Ive learned. Yet they continue to come to my mailbox. So beware. It’s all so bazaar !!
September 06, 2018
Most often these fake checks will not have a bank phone number on them - the scammers don't want you calling the bank the check was forged, er, written on to verify. Also check for spelling on the check. I saw a check once that instead of Portland, it was Portlund.
September 06, 2018
I received a phone call from the "Social Security Admin." stating there was fraudulent activity associated with my SS number. I called the callback number, 915-208-4911 and right away they wanted my name and SS number. I said do you think I'm an idiot? She said no, but I will call your local police to pick you up. I said something I can't repeat here and hungup. A few weeks ago I received an automated call from the "IRS" saying there was a warrant out for my arrest because I owed them money. I know these are both scams and thought I should tell you. Thank you for the work you are doing.
September 06, 2018
My mother, now deceased, then in her seventies, had check scammers go after her twice. Mom kept a close eye on her accounts and noticed a sizable withdrawal for a check. She did not write a check for this amount and went to her bank that cashed the check. This was HER bank. They pulled up the check, and the check had a different address and phone number from her own, and the signature had NO resemblance to her own; but it did have her bank number on the check. The bank cashed it. Mom was able to prove that it was not she that signed or issued that check, but the bank said they were ONLY libel for a small amount of the funds they had released. Her funds. The bank said she was just out of luck, and suggested that she call the police. She did so. The police said this was so common there was little hope of catching the people who did this. The same people were busy cashing more checks on Mom's accounts, each with a different address. Mom contacted the police again. The police this time said they even knew the people doing this but could not move against them, or would not. In part because the addresses on the checks were from different counties in SC, and that Mom would have to contact each county's law enforcement and pursue it through each separate county, one by one. All this from an old woman, half blind and deaf! Though sharp as a tack. (I personally think that these scammers pick people who are old to go after as they are less sure of themselves and less able, with less financial ability to pursue them.) Plus with laws like the police told my mother they had to follow, this made it impossible for an average person to get justice...from the POLICE, much less the criminal! Mom had changed her account information after she found out. But too late. With laws that let the banks cash checks without any sort of review of the address, phone or signature....that just plays into crooks hands also. IF the law made banks liable for the full sum they released, then I bet they WOULD verify any new and unusual information on the checks of THEIR OWN PATRONS.
September 06, 2018
I just got a call from a "company" who owes me a refund which has closed down, To get my refund call 877-957-6417 three times the no. was repeated. I laughed out loud, do they think I am a dummy? Well yes they probably do, but my mom did not raise any dummies. LOL
September 07, 2018
There is really no such thing as a "fake" check, like there is fake currency. The same paper and ink can be valid or not. The Bank where a check is deposited has no way of knowing if the correct person signed the check or if the account even exists! The big banks won't verify checks anymore. The only thing a bank can do about fraudulent checks being deposited is to know their customer. Then, of course, customers get upset when the bank asks too many questions or places a hold on a deposit.
September 08, 2018
Received phone call from someone in Kingston Jamaca saying I had won 5.3 million. Wanted me to open a bank account so they could deposit the money and I could pay the taxes from that account and have the rest for me. Figured it was a scam and didn't follow thru. The phone # is 1-876-456-6010. Beware the crooked people!!!
Erik Leon Fake…
September 14, 2018
Sometime in October of last year, my mom got a phone call and it said she was approved for a $1,500 payday loan. Well, at the time I was not working and the money sounded really good. So, what happened is that I went along with it and called the guys back and they deposited a fake check into my bank account. Since my mom is co-owner of that bank account she cannot have a bank anywhere else than Chase. So, now I am stuck with Chase until my name is cleared. It sucks, but this was a lessoned learned.
September 14, 2018
Recentlly receive a check for allowing my vehicle to be used for advetising. I felt funny so I opened a new svaings account and deposted the check on Tuesday, Septmenber 11, 2018, the check still as not cleared and receive a text every day asking if the check has cleared. I am sure it's scam but want to know my next step.
September 17, 2018
Another way to confirm that a check is bad is to look at the routing number, 9 digit number, and go online, search bank routing numbers, to check the bank listed on the check. It won't match.
December 19, 2018

In reply to by Chris

I did this with a check that I just found out was fraudulent about 3 months after depositing it. Luckily I didn't feel right about it so the money stayed in the account. When I received the check, I literally checked the routing number against the bank on the check and it matched up. Apparently the check was "altered" somehow to show my name.
September 20, 2018
I’ve been mailed a check, but knew better. They posed as a Job offer and I suddenly received a check as “prepayment”. I’m worried they have my address. They keep calling me so i blocked the number and I got a text from a different one with a threat “you’re in trouble”. Do i need to get a new phone or anything? It’s wigging me out.
Been there
October 06, 2018

In reply to by NACon

No, don't waste your money. Simply block the number you get any messages from...every time. Eventually they will stop because you are costing them their effort and time with no compensation for them. Some cell companies allow one free number change so u could change your number, but honestly....Simply don't respond and block all msgs you even think might be a scam or related to one....they WILL go away , sooner rather than later, believe me.
Suspiciously smart
September 20, 2018
I received a cashiers check from Pharmacare for $2950- and drawn on a real bank- in a Priority Mail envelope. But- as you know too good to be true- I called the bank and the company to ask why I would be the benefactor of this money- and they said SCAM! I am not sure how the scammer profits from this- but it's so real looking. BE SMART- if it looks too good to be true and it comes out of the blue- it's a SCAM!!
September 25, 2018
So i recently sold a tablet online and this person told me to text them and i did and she gave me her full name and asked me how much i will sell the tablet I said 350 but I lowered it down to 320 to be nice to her and she told me that she will pay me 50 extra she told me that she will send me a check. I waited for a few days and she texted me that the check will be there that day. I recieved the check and I opened the envoloped and it had $1700 on the check i also found a piece of paper that said when you receive this check you have to send your full name and check number to this phone number. I did do it i didn't suspect anything because it was my first time to have a check but then i texted her saying that is weird and i texted her that there is more than what i asked for and she didn't answer until the next day or after a few hours and she gave her excuse that she was in a wedding vacation so then what happened the other person texted me and told me to deposit the check I did and i received all the $1700 and the person told me to get what i had to receive and i did and then the person told me to deposit the rest to walmart and it had to be a 10 minutes deposit i did and i did it so the can have full trust on me and i deposited $1330 and the lady will tell me that the next day a person will come to pick up the tablet and she would also request to buy her a $100 itunes card and that's when my mom told me don't do it and i gave her a fake excuse that i won't be able to but the card amd she kept on insisting and yes I'm a minor and my mom signed the check and she actually doesn't uses checks at all so she didn't know the check was fake so now we both have this huge problem that the bank made an arrest warrant and the bank is accusing us that we did it intentionally and we didn't had any clue that it was fake so I would like to know what could i do in this situation?
October 01, 2018
Where can we file information about a scam names and numbers and such
October 02, 2018
"If it seems too good to be true"...know that you are responsible for anything you deposit into your account. If something seems questionable, ask your banker or for the advice of your bank's fraud department. Be honest about where you got the check, who you got it from, if it came with a letter, etc. before having it deposited into your account. Unfortunately, they often target individuals who are down on their luck or are so hard pressed for a miracle that they don't appreciate questions from the bank. This is a deep and winding rabbit hole. Not every counterfeit check is obvious; some are very convincing reproductions using legitimate account/routing information. Banks are often victims of having their cashier's checks and money orders copied by scammers. Same with both personal and business accounts. A "cleared" check does not equal a "good" check because an account holder can come back and report an item as fraudulent after the funds have been released. Forged endorsements have a time frame of 3 years. Other common parts of check scams including being asked to purchase gift cards and provide the card information to the culprit who sent you the check. I have even seen several cases in the past several months where the scammers ask for the individual's online banking credentials. They then use those credentials to deposit counterfeit checks via mobile deposit, take advantage of P2P money services such as Zelle that your bank my use, use your online banking to remove or change security features on your account, etc.
October 03, 2018
I received a check last week! I asked the bank if it was good and said because if it’s not I can’t afford to repay it, 2 people looked at it and said it was good! This week I see that it was returned and that the bank is running it back through! I pray it’s good because I don’t have that much money and I did cash it out and sent it to who it was written on behalf of. I tried to go to the bank yesterday but all their electronics were down at all branches! Lots of praying going into this!
October 16, 2018
I keep get things that I won a contest 50,000 up to 500,000 but I have to pay a fee
November 04, 2018
I recieved a check two days ago in the mail. How it started: there was a job ad on local Facebook group and I applied with the link they gave me. 2 months later I wake up to a text saying I should have recieved a letter in the mail with my check valued at 3,740 and I need to purchase giftcards valued at 1,000. I called my bank to see what to do. They told me to deposit and wait 2 weeks without touching the money. If it’s fake, they will take out the money and I’ll be given a $4 fee. Just don’t use the money for a few weeks that way your bank can flag that check and look out for similar ones. Hope this helps.
November 10, 2018
Can't you just take the check to Wal-Mart and cash it?
November 14, 2018
I just received a check for $2,450.35 to participate in a advertising campaign for 'Bud Light Lime'. I am to receive $500 per week to allow them to wrap my car with a bright green Bud Light Lime display. I am to deposit the check and withdraw $1950.35 to give to the person who comes to wrap my car. Is this a scam???
Sign man
January 28, 2019

In reply to by Judie

It is absolutely a scam, They will use any well known brand, Rockstar, Monster, Pepsi, and use this same scam on a lot of people, there are a limited number of companies that can apply a wrap to a car and it is not cheap or easy to do. A company like Rock Star only uses their own vehicles to wrap as well as their own employees to drive the vehicle. do not deposit the check and do not respond back to them, block the caller and they will move on.Oh another thing I might add, if you are doing a lot of online job searches, or are retired or a senior citizen you are probably a good target for this type of scam.
November 15, 2018
My son trusted a longtime friend that told him about his cousin doing a business where he would deposit a check in my son's checking account and 1/2 the money with him. My son had gone through most of his money he had saved for school and did't want to tell us or ask us for money. So he gave his checking account info to the friend's cousin who passed it on to her boyfriend. He deposited a $2500 fraudulent check and then started withdrawing money. My son's account was also linked to his dad's extra account and they made transfers out of it and completely drained both accounts. My son did a stupid thing but had no idea it was going to be a bad check or that they would be able to get to his dad's account. The bank is being really rude saying he was "involved". He has a 3.0 in college, never been in trouble or even had a traffic ticket. He made a really bad decision but he is a victim. WHAT DO WE DO??
FTC Staff
December 14, 2018

In reply to by WorriedMom

If your son shared other personal information, like his account passwords, date of birth, or Social Security number, he could be at risk of identity theft. He can to to and click the "Get Started" button. Then, he can choose "Someone has my information or tried to use it and I'm worried about identity theft."

The bank may charge fees for bounced checks, or close his account. He could talk with the bank about how to protect his information, or open a new account.

November 15, 2018
I need to report a scam , I have already called the bank from which the check was writtin on , no such company , that is a fraud check . for car wraps , have check did not cash it. have all of the text message and phone numbers of person , for car wrapping , you make $500.00 a week , but you also have to pay the installer , and were including his portion as well , so deposit this check send me picture of full depost slip, then I will aontact the detailer to come wrap your car , for Smirnoff vodka .
November 20, 2018
Going on the fourth time since summer. I need a remote job due to disability. I signed up with legitimate job search companies. I received job offers, they send me a check to cover needed supplies. They try to pressure me to deposit the check immediately. I inform them, as soon as I verify the check is valid, I'll be happy to go to work. They typically feign being insulted. How dare I question. Just deposit the check. I email or call the bank the funds are to be drawn from. In less than a minute, the bank knows it's fake. I used to turn this over to FBI Fraud. Privately informed not much they can do,but, keep bringing them evidence. I do enjoy making the crooks uncomfortable. Just knowing they missed what they thought would be an easy mark, almost makes the annoyance worth it. So, if anyone sends you a check, tell them you're going to have it verified.
Work from home…
December 03, 2018
Thanks guys for these great posts, very informative. Just got an email about a job that I never applied for, explaining how I was the best candidate to print and mail out payroll checks from home. The email went on to explain in this elaborate soliloquy how if I buy a printer n checks they would reimburse me right away. They also wanted all my information and cell phone number. This is classic check scam, and I think if you send the information they are actually selling and sharing ur name with other scammers. That's how they keep the scamming circle going with fake jobs, fake checks and owing IRS bull crap. I intend on emailing back and asking how they figure I'm right for the job if they don't even know my last name, and supposedly I applied for a job at their company, nope sorry..
December 09, 2018
Watch out for the Jiver Monster Energy drink scams. My husband cashed a cashier check for 1,970.30 and sent them 2-money orders for 750.00 dollars. Now I'm in the hole for 1,970.30. I've got to pay the bank back this money.
December 14, 2018
I got an email from Walmartsurveyagent @ gmail. com. They sent a check for over $2500 & asked that I deposit in within 24hrs. Then, go to a nearby Walmart and buy a money order & gift card. Luckily, I looked up secret shopper scams before I moved forward. Thanks to everyone one that commented on this site!
December 13, 2018
I received a check from Mercury Insurance...The return address was from Volkswagen of America Group in Auburn, Michigan..The check is supposed to be a prepayment for advertising using my car with a big sticker on it..No contact was signed. Matt Call wants me to confirm that I received the check so we can procede. I am just a little concerned if this is legit. I don't know where else to turn to find out.
December 13, 2018
I received a large check in in the mail in return for a survey and proof of gift card purchase. Should I tell somebody about this scam? If so who?
January 03, 2019
I was dumped and kicked out by a long time boyfriend moved out of the city and back to my mother's house. In that time I decided to apply for as many jobs as I could hoping that something will come along. I used many job sites nd entered my number many times. A few days past and I get a text saying we have seen u applied for this job but the position is now filled but we do have another company who we work closely with looking for an office assistant if you are interested please contact (and they provided the email address). Me being so excited I text the number back explaining I was very interested and asked if they knew the location.. I got no response but i figured they was probably just busy or it was one of those automated texts. So I just went on to the email. I explained who I am and why I'm writing. He asked my name if I had any record. Where I was located all of that only thing I didnt giv was my social. Me being honest explaining I had a record from when I was younger but was used as my Y.O he didnt respond for awhile. After a couple weeks go by he tells me sorry he had business meetings but i have the job. They will send me the funds needed for the job and to take care of his flights because he was out of town doing business. He said they will arrange a in person interview as soon as he gets back. I asked the location I believe he said the job will not be office based for now because of his frequent traveling . But I would be as a call on assistant so like out of office one he would just call when he needed. He said the hours are flexible and I would be paid $600 weekly. I was basically responsible for his scheduling. Flights, programs ect. Me being young and watching alot of movies and wanting to have that job I see on t.v I agreed. He then said he sent the funds to start the job and to let him know when they would be available to me its sent it via USPS nd I did exactly as told then I deposited it into my bank and it took forever till finally I called and I believe they said they have the funds on hold or something like that then I got a check in the mail not for the check balance but for my little change that was in there b4. I then called again to see what happened and they said they have no account in my name. So I went down to my branch and the guy tried to help me he said yea I have no account in that name so he tried to open me a new account and he eventually asked did u deposit a fraudulent check.. I said I didnt know it was fraudulent but I deposited a check yes he said there you go. I said what. He explained that's why he cant open a account for me. I said is there anything I can do I have the emails and message he said no but you cant bank with us anymore I said wow are u serious. I said I had no idea I asked if this would go on like my record or something and then said so I cant bank with other banks he said no you just cant bank with us. That blew mines my heart dropped because I have had this bank for awhile now this was my first ever bank and I built trust with this bank. I was also reliant on this bank for my Bill's.. so then I was left bankless, cardless, jobless, boyfriendless, and afraid of any other job offers or responses I recieved. The email was a gmail account under "Anthony Nathan"
December 06, 2019

In reply to by BadLuckSally

I had a similar experience with someone calling himself “Charles Fancher”. I applied for an assistant job at a law firm, was told the position was filled but another associate was being relocated from Illinois and needed an assistant so I could work for him if I’d like. I’d be paid $550 a week to do errands. The first thing that got me feeling weird was when I told him I was in training for a full time job and probably wouldn’t have a lot of time to work for him and he was perfectly okay with it. He said he had mailed me a check (I’d filled out an application that only asked for my name, address, phone, email, and driver’s license number) and to confirm that I’d received it. It was for $3,480! He texted me multiple times asking to confirm receipt of the check, as I was on my way home at the time. That was my second tip off it was a scam. Then I did a reverse phone lookup on his number and it came back to a New York address, not Illinois as he’d claimed. When I looked in my mailbox, there was an envelope from California with the check in it that was made out to me, which confirmed it was a scam. I texted him that I had the check, and he told me to deposit it in my account! I refused, and he went silent. Never heard from him again. I reported him to the job search engine I found the job on, the company he was posing as, the local police department, and the United States Postal Inspection Service Mail Fraud Unit. They’re sending me an envelope to send them the check and mailing envelope he used to send the check to me as evidence.
Researching Is…
February 14, 2020

In reply to by Klhesson

Thank you for posting this! I just had a job offer from a Charles Fancher who is seeking a personal assistant to take care of some of his business in my area. He stated he resided in IL but his wife and 2 children will be moving to this area before him. He wanted his personal and business move to be an easy transition. I have spent some time trying to obtain information on this "Charles" and stumbled onto this site. Glad I didnt proceed with this "job" opportunity. The pay was definitely too good to be true which made me suspicious from start.
February 25, 2020

In reply to by Klhesson

Omg this just happened to me! Same name and everything. All the info you gave was the same exact thing. And your post on here verified what my thoughts were. I couldn’t believe there scamming people looking for work! It’s sickening. Highly upset and made a report as well.
January 15, 2019
Question: I did receive a cashier's check for $1050 more than my item's amount. I realized it was a scam (even called that bank, and there were insufficient funds to cover the check), but is there anything I should do now with the check? My accountant said to tear it up; someone else suggested voiding it and returning it. (Further weirdness:The name on the check and the senders address on the FedEx envelope are not the same, and neither one is anywhere near where the 'buyer' said he lives.) Any suggestions? And fwiw, when I showed the check to my own bank, the teller said, "If this is a fake, it's the best one I've ever seen." But I'm sure it's a scam.
January 28, 2019
any one hear about field net global research checks
July 05, 2019

In reply to by cowboy

Yes, I received one the other day. Prior to receiving the check, I get a text message stating that they would be sending it to me. I'm a little concerned that they have both my cell phone # and my address.
February 04, 2019
Anyone heard of concentrix check scam?
February 07, 2019
just got a check in the mail 2 days ago, it did not feel right the person ask me have I got the check and deposit it . Was waiting for it to clear in 24 hrs. I told him that I deposit and that it cleared. He ask me if I had cash App or Zelle App I said no he then told me to go to western Union send it to a particular person. then he change it to send it somewhere else . He kept texting me to see if I went to the nearest Western Union. I cut my phone off he was still texting to 4:00 a.m. So I told him to stop texting me that my Bank said it is a scam. He argue with me to tell me that his bank said it cleared and I have the money . LISTEN UP CLASS IT IS A SCAM I NEVER STEPPED A FOOT OUT OF MY HOUSE TO TAKE IT TO THE BANK. NEVER WENT IT IS A SCAM. IF IT SOUNDS TO GOOD TO BE TRUE YOU KNOW THAT IT IS NOT TRUE. I HOPE THIS HELP SOMEONE IT WAS FOR A CARWRAP ADVERTISEMENT FOR COCA COL!!!!!!.