Dateline NBC
updated 3/29/2009 6:45:48 PM ET 2009-03-29T22:45:48

  • Always be suspicious if you receive a check, money order or bank transfer along with a request to return (or forward) part of the funds to someone else. Experts say there’s no legitimate reason why anyone would give you a check and ask you to wire money in return.
  • Scammers often create sophisticated counterfeit checks resembling those from financial institutions and large companies.  These phony checks and money orders are so realistic-looking that even bank tellers are fooled. Just because you can withdraw the money doesn’t mean the check or money order is good. It can take weeks, even months, for counterfeits to be discovered.   But you can still be held responsible.
  • Before you make a deposit in your account, check it out.  Western Union, MoneyGram, and the U.S. Postal Service all have toll-free numbers you can call to help verify whether a money order you receive is authentic. If you receive a check, call the company named on the check directly and ask to verify it.
  • When contacting companies to verify a check, don’t trust the phone numbers or addresses listed in the job offer.   Scammers often create their own phone numbers – and try to fool you if you call them.  Go to the phone listings and look up the number for the real company.
  • Pay attention to e-mail addresses.  Major companies generally have their own e-mails.  So, if the e-mail is bigcompanyname@yahoo.com or bigcompanyname@gmail.com, for example, it’s likely a scam.
  • More tips: Read the FBI's recent warning about job scams here, see examples of common counterfeit check schemes here, and go to the FBI's Web site for reporting Internet scams, the Internet Crimes Complaint Center, here.
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