The Old "Fake Check" Scam

Fake checks are one of the oldest scams and consistently appear at the top the Better Business Bureau’s list of most common scams. These tips will help you to identify potential scams as well as provide some guidance if you have been a victim to this type of scam.

Piggy bank

What You Should Know

In the basic fake check (or money order) scam, a third-party—the scammer—offers to send you a check for things such as payment for goods you may be selling online, payment for services such as secret shopping, or a sweepstakes prize. The scammer then requests that you send them back money—because they sent you too much or as a processing fee or interest payment—through an alternative payment method such as a money order, a money transfer service (e.g., Western Union®), or prepaid debit or gift cards (e.g., iTunes®).

When you deposit the fake check from the scammer, the funds will appear in your account quickly in accordance with federal banking law so you may feel comfortable sending funds to the scammer; however, days or weeks later, the check you deposited will be returned as bad or fraudulent, and you will be responsible for any amount that you sent to the third-party drawn against those funds.

A more recent version of the fake check scam is the fraudulent deposit scam, in which the third-party requests your bank account information or online banking credentials in order to make deposits into your account. These deposits are likely fraudulent and can take time to discover even if the funds are available to you.

What You Should Do

If you believe you have been the victim of a fake check or fraudulent deposit scam consider the following steps:

  • Contact customer service or visit a branch right away. They will work with you to protect your accounts from further fraudulent activity. First Hawaiian Bank’s 24-hour Customer Service is available at 844-4444 (from Oahu) or toll free at (888) 844-4444 (from the continental U.S., Guam or CNMI).
  • Report it to the Federal Trade Commission.
  • For cases where your online profile may be compromised, you may want to seek technical support from a reputable service provider to remove malicious software that may have been installed on your computer.

Preventions Tips

Some tips to avoid becoming the victim of a fake check scam:

  • Be suspicious in cases of overpayments or unsolicited checks. You are responsible for any checks you deposit and any funds drawn against these deposits.
  • Contact the bank that the check is written from to make sure it is valid. Be sure to use contact information from an official source such as the bank’s web site and not from the check or the sender.
  • Verify the validity of any sweepstakes prize, especially if it requires you to pay a fee to collect your prize.
  • Ensure you know who you are sending money to, particularly if they request alternative payment methods such as money transfers, prepaid debit cards or gift cards.
  • Do not provide your bank account information or online banking credentials to anyone over the phone.

First Hawaiian Bank will do our best to notify you of potential threats. Like us on Facebook ( or follow us on Twitter (@FHBHawaii) to get our latest security alerts and bank updates. Review our security content to learn more about protecting yourself from Identity Theft and Phishing.

Western Union® is a trademark owned by The Western Union Company, registered in the United States and many foreign countries.
iTunes® is a trademark of Apple Inc., registered in the U.S. and other countries.

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