As part of our commitment to protecting members and their accounts, we post current scams and provide tips pertaining to how to protect your personal information and accounts.  As recently as this week, we’ve received information from members victimized by online overpayment scams that have cost them thousands of dollars.


The Scam
Scammers typically target people selling goods or services online; however, other themes include jobs opportunities as mystery shopper, at-home employment, lottery winners and more.  The scammer will send a check, money order or cashier’s check for an amount greater than the amount they promised.  Overpayment is typically explained as an accidental oversight or the scammer may ask for a favor to assist them.  You deposit the check for the higher amount into your account and send them back the difference as a cashier’s check.  Some scammers will request that you use a wire service like Western Union to send them the money.


Regardless of the type of scam, the common theme to catch your attention is the overpayment of funds and the “send back” transaction component.  There is no legitimate reason that someone will send you a check, cashier’s check or money order and ask you to send money back to them in return.


Members think that a money order or cashier’s check is a safe way to accept payment.  This type of fraudulent payment, however, can be very convincing and can look legitimate.  Once you deposit the item into your account, you are accepting financial responsibility for the deposit and guaranteeing those funds.


Scammers rely on the cushion of time that it takes your financial institution to reject a check as fraudulent.  By the time you are aware the check is fake, you’ve already wired the money and they’re unable to be found.


The Takeaways
We want you to know three important things to protect yourself:


1. Money orders and cashier’s check can be fraudulent, even if they look legitimate.
2. Wiring money is just like sending cash, you can’t get it back after it has been received.  Consequently, never wire money to strangers.
3. Call us with questions if you are suspicious about a transaction or if you need help finding appropriate resources.


Don’t let it happen to you.  Be careful about who you do business with.  Do not send money to strangers with the promise of repayment.  And, if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.


Be mindful, be wary and be safe.

by Michelle, AVP, Operations