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Fake checks, including cashiers checks, can look so real even bank tellers can be fooled. However, just because you can withdraw the money, doesn't mean the check is good. Forgeries can take weeks to discover. You are responsible for the checks you deposit. If a check bounces, you owe the bank any money you withdrew. If someone wants to send you a check, insist on a cashier's check for the exact amount, preferably from a local bank or one with a branch in your area. Never accept a check and then agree to send a portion of the money back to the sender. For information or to report a scam, visit fakecheck.org or call toll-free 1-800-876-7060.
If you cash an unsolicited check you've received in the mail, you could be agreeing to pay for products or services you don't want or need, such as Internet access or membership in a web directory. In addition, those "guarantees" for credit cards or loans, regardless of credit history, are probably a scam. Legitimate lenders never guarantee credit. For information on how to identify fraudulent solicitations, contact the Federal Trade Commission.
Legitimate offers of credit often come in the form of "convenience checks", which credit card companies enclose with your monthly statement. However, these convenience checks may carry higher fees, a higher interest rate, and other restrictions. If you don't want the checks, be sure to shred them to protect yourself from dumpster divers and identity thieves.
Watch out for checks from someone in a foreign country claiming that you won a lottery, for an investment, or to pay for an item you sold online. This could be a scam. Even if you deposit the check, the check may not be legal. Don't rely on money from a check, especially foreign or unsolicited, until your bank says the check has cleared or if you know and trust the person who sent it to you.
|Type of Institution||Regulatory Agency|
|State chartered banks and trust companies that are NOT member of the Federal Reserve System||Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation|
|State chartered banks and trust companies that are members of the Federal Reserve System||Federal Reserve System|
|State chartered banks||State Banking Authorities|
|Banks with National in the name or N.A. after the name||Comptroller of the Currency, U.S. Department of the Treasury|
|Federal savings and loans and federal savings banks||Comptroller of the Currency, U.S. Department of the Treasury|
|Federally chartered credit unions||National Credit Union Administration|
Page Last Reviewed or Updated: June 13, 2013