Counterfeit or fraudulent checks have become more prevalent than ever with the aid of Internet scams. Oftentimes, the first sign that a check is bad is the bad feeling you get when you pick it up. But the victimization doesn't end when you find out the check isn't real.
The most common source of fraudulent checks comes from Internet scams. They often involve someone who wants to pay you more than you've asked for, for anything really, all without meeting face-to-face. In return, you are to wire the excess funds to a third party for any of a number of reasons.
The problem begins when you deposit the check at your bank. The teller at the counter will accept the check at face value and credit the money to your account. This doesn't mean that the check is real.
As FakeChecks.org has stated, "There is no legitimate reason why anyone would give you a check or money order and ask you to wire money anywhere in return." They do this because they know that after you wire them money they will be free and clear. When the bank discovers that the check is fake, you the account holder are held accountable. Legal charges will ensue for an individual who does not reimburse the bank for fraudulent activity.
There are often a number of indicators that a check is fake. The most straightforward way to determine this is to call the bank upon which the check is drawn and ask them if the routing number, found at the bottom left, and the checking account number, usually in the center, are authentic.
Report all incidents of check fraud to the proper authorities. Internet scams that result in check fraud can be reported online through FakeChecks.org and National Consumers League's Fraud Center. Your local police can also be contacted.