When you accept a cashier's check from someone, you might assume the check is good because it looks official. But that's not always the case, as scams involving fake cashier's checks are abundant. Learning how to verify a cashier's check gives you the knowledge necessary to make sure you're truly getting paid and that the bank honors the check. Otherwise, you're putting your money at risk.
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Start With Visual Clues
Cashier's checks are usually printed on heavyweight paper. You should see a bank's name and logo on the check along with routing and account numbers. If the check lacks this information, looks fake due to the quality of the paper or is badly printed, this might be a sign that the check is a fake. To make sure checks are authentic, however, don't rely solely on visual clues. Some fake checks look perfectly legitimate, so you need to take extra steps to verify that the check is good.
Call the Bank
Before the person who gave you the check walks out the door, call the bank on which the check was drawn. Verify that the check amount and the number match the bank's records. When possible, request only checks that are drawn from a local bank or branch. This way you can visit the bank in person to confirm the check is real. If you decide to call rather than visit the bank, obtain the phone number on your own so the person who gave you the check doesn't give you a fake number that's been set up with a conspirator to give you answers that make it sound like the check is real.
Accompany the Person
One clear way to verify a cashier's check is to watch the teller at the bank prepare it and hand it to the person who is paying you. This requires planning ahead of time so the person knows you expect to go together to the bank as part of the process. If the person already obtained the cashier's check, ask her to go with you to the issuing bank so you can cash the check before handing over the goods.
Recognize the Signs
Watch out if someone sends you a cashier's check for more than he owes and requests you to mail the excess funds back to him. That's a sign the check is fraudulent as there's absolutely no reason for someone to make this request. Another sign the check is fake is when you are asked to pay for something you supposedly won. For instance, if you receive a letter saying you just won a lottery or have become an heir to someone's property, and you're asked to pay a processing fee in order to get your winnings or inheritance, stop right there because you're probably being scammed.