In today’s digital world, cheques are less popular than they used to be in the past. That’s why it’s surprising to learn cheque fraud is still happening as frequently as ever, especially on social media. Although it can happen to anyone, studies have found that victims of cheque fraud tend to be younger adults. Don’t fret, though: here’s what you need to know to protect yourself.
Cheque fraud can take many forms. It may be a stolen or counterfeit cheque used to pay for a purchase. Or a legitimate cheque that was altered to change the amount or payee. Another common scam involves receiving a cheque for more than what's owed. Victims will then be informed that they’ve been “overpaid” and asked to transfer the difference, only to find out that the cheque has bounced.
As the recipient of a cheque, it’s important to note that you’re responsible for any funds. Meaning: if it’s determined to be fraudulent after it’s in your account, banks have the right to recover the amount from you.
While this may sound intimidating, the good news is that there are tell-tale ways to spot fake cheques. Here are several of them.
Digital cheques. If you’re sent an image of a cheque through social media or as an email attachment and asked to print it out to deposit it, this is a red flag. You must have the original cheque in your physical possession to get the funds.
Unusual requests. If you’re pressured to quickly send back the “overpayment” via Interac e-Transfer® or another payment method after depositing the funds, this is another sign of a scam. Remember: even though funds initially appear in your account, it doesn’t mean the cheque is legitimate.
Name inconsistencies. Be wary of inconsistencies with payor names. Pay attention to whether the name on the cheque matches that of the individual that you’re communicating with on social media.
Cheque quality. Does the message "for mobile deposit only" appear on the back of the cheque? All cheques can be negotiated in person at the bank — so be cautious if you see this noted on one. Also, examine whether the font on the payee line differs from the rest of the cheque or if it’s irregular in other sections.
Location. Note the province that the cheque is drawn on. Is it from an out of province financial institution? Again, consider whether this makes sense based on what you know of the payee.
Visit our security page for more information. If you suspect that you have been a victim of fraud where it relates to your account(s), please call our Member Advice Centre or visit your branch right away.