To All Northwest Bank & Trust Customers

Fraud and Identity Theft

Fraud and identify theft continue to be of concern to everyone. You can be the best line of defense against fraud and identity theft, and you can find additional information on the matter at www.consumer.gov/idtheft. This is the US government's central Web site for information about identity theft.

Avoiding Cashier’s Check Fraud

 Many consumers have fallen victim to scams involving cashier’s checks. Scammers are printing fake checks that can look very realistic and passing them off to unsuspecting consumers. It can take days after a fraudulent cashier’s check is deposited into an account before the consumer even knows that it was a fake. Here are some common scams that we have seen and ways to protect yourself. 

Someone asks you to assist in getting a check cashed.

The perpetrator asks you to cash the check because they don’t have an account. They will even let you keep part of the money for your work. Always apply the “smell test” to these situations. If something smells fishy or sounds too good to be true, it probably is. By the time you realize the check is fraudulent, the scammer has your cash and you have nothing. 

Payment for an online purchase such as Craig’s list.

Sellers are receiving fraudulent cashier’s checks for items purchased on Craig’s list.  Most recently, we have reports of sellers receiving cashier’s checks for amounts that exceed the agreed upon purchase price and they are asked to refund back to the buyer the excess funds.  By the time the check is discovered to be fraudulent, the scammer has your goods and/or a refund check, and the fraudulent check that was deposited into your account has been reversed.  

Someone asks you to participate in a “mystery shopper” program.

Unsuspecting consumers receive a solicitation to participate in a “mystery shopper” program. The solicitation includes a cashier’s check and they are instructed to cash the check, keep a small amount for their trouble, spend a small amount at a store, and then purchase a money order for the balance and mail the money order to an individual. Again, as soon as the check is discovered to be fraudulent, the original deposit to your account will be reversed and the money orders have already been cashed.
 
These are just a couple examples of cashier’s check fraud we have seen recently. Protect yourself from fraud by being alert and suspicious. Call the issuing bank to verify the check is genuine. Don’t count on the contact information on the check itself being correct, it may be phony as well. Look up the contact information for the bank and call it directly.
 
If you are a victim of fraud, report the crime immediately. Contact your bank and the bank that supposedly issued the check. Also contact the site or service through which the transaction occurred.
 
For more complete information, visit the FTC’s Consumer Information page.
 

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