Protect your accounts from scammers

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(WOWT) -- Unfortunately fraudsters and scammers have become increasingly common in our market. No longer limited to bigger cities, these people are targeting individuals right here in our community. Whether you are receiving money through a transaction made through the internet, mail or phone and a check is involved, it is best to deposit that check and wait until it clears the issuing bank.

Consumers often assume that when they take a check to their bank or credit union and they cash it, the check must have cleared the issuing bank and the money is okay to spend. Depending on your banking relationship and the amount of the check you want to cash, your own check cashing habits or behavior and how much your have in loans and deposits with your financial institution, the check you are cashing may never be questioned by the teller. Phony checks are often so realistic looking that even bank tellers can be fooled. While the names of the companies that appear on the checks may be legitimate, the checks have been fraudulently created without the real company’s knowledge.

For consumers a good reminder is that just because you are given the funds up front and no holds are placed on the check, does not mean it is a good check. It could bounce and then you will be stuck covering the cost of the check and any fees associated with the bounced check.

To avoid losing money over a bad check that you have received, it is a good idea to deposit the check into a savings account and wait a few days to see if it clears. If the check does not clear, you will see it withdrawn from your account. For locally issued checks, usually waiting 2 to 5 business days is sufficient to see if the check will clear. For out of state issued checks, Centris Federal Credit Union recommends waiting up to 14 business days before you spend the money you have received. While this means a few extra days without the cash in hand, it is a better practice to be in rather than having to pay back your financial institution for money that someone scammed from you.

For more frequently asked questions about fake check scams and how to protect your accounts from scammers, go to: