Technology has made it easy for us to sell things. Websites like Craiglist and eBay are great places to unload things you no longer need and make a few bucks while doing it. But with sales, comes the need to accept payment. Anytime you are accepting a check from people, especially someone you don't know, there is the possibility that the check might be fake. Unknowingly accepting fake checks can be a headache to resolve. It can wreak havoc on your credit rating. There are things you can do to protect yourself from illegitimate checks though.
Require that people pay you by cashier's checks. They tend to be safer because the money needs to be presented before they can be issued.
Ask your bank to call in the routing numbers and verify the cashier's check was issued on a legitimate account. Since cashier's checks can be faked by using sophisticated software and printers, enlist the help of your local bank by having them confirm its legitimacy.
Cash the check at the issuing bank whenever possible. They will be able to determine whether there are sufficient funds in the account for the check to be paid. In addition, if there aren't sufficient funds or the check is fake, the issuing institutions will be able to handle the matter on site.
Refuse checks that are written for more than you requested. This is typically a red flag for a fake check. Most likely it is written on a bad account. You cash the check and return the excess money only to find out that it was written on a closed or fake account. Since the person who presented you with the check already has the money they wanted from you, there is seldom any way to track them down and recoup the lost money. Keep in mind that there is no reason you should need to give someone money back if they are buying something from you.
Tips & Warnings
- Be reluctant about checks from foreign countries. Since it is hard for you to determine whether or not the bank exists and if there are funds in the account, you should ask for an alternate form of payment. Many times they will say it's too complicated to have it sent from their country and offer to have it sent from someone within the United States.