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How to Avoid Fake Check Scams


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Scam Alert: Forged Checks

Pioneer Valley Credit Union (PVCU) members should be aware of forged or counterfeit checks appearing to be from PVCU as well as from other local Credit Unions located in Massachusetts. These checks may appear legitimate, with similar qualities as an official check.

If you receive a suspicious check or have concerns that you may have been a victim of a check scam, please immediately call our Contact Center at (413) 733-2800 or 866-697-8328, Option 3.

It is vital to always be careful of wiring or cashing checks from potential scammers and take the necessary precautions of keeping yourself safe from forged or counterfeit checks.

How to Avoid Fake Check Scams

A fake check scam can happen to anyone and can disguise itself as a realistic transaction or business deal. Many reported scams may have similar qualities, which can be helpful in early detection to avoid fraudulent checks.

Scammers may imitate the following scenarios:

  • A fraudster may ask you to deposit a check for more than you are owed and ask you to send back the additional amount via money wire, cash or gift card.
  • Scammers may “hire” you as a “Mystery Shopper” with instructions to deposit a check into a personal bank account to be wired.

The Federal Trade Commission offers more commonly used fraudulent scenarios in their article on how to spot, avoid and report fake check scams. By familiarizing yourself with methods used by fraudsters in the past, you may be able to protect yourself from getting scammed in the future. Protect yourself before the scam happens. Always wait and verify the check with the financial institution before depositing and acquaint yourself with reasons why scammers likely pressure victims into wiring money.

You may be able to withdraw the check amount, even if the check is illegitimate. However, once the check has bounced, there is a chance you will have to pay the amount owed.

If a fake check is deposited, the severity of consequences may vary from losing thousands of your hard earned dollars including paying bank fees and penalties to possible law enforcement ramifications. If you knowingly deposit a fake check to your Credit Union or financial institution, your account may be frozen, you may have to pay late fees and your credit and banking history could be negatively impacted. It is possible to receive fines and jail time from law enforcement in some fraudulent check cases.

The National Credit Union Association (NCUA) recommends some of the following steps to take if you believe you or someone you know may be a victim of a fake check scam:

According to the Federal Trade Commission, reports are used to advance investigations and are shared with over 3,000 law enforcement officials to aid in cases against fraud, scams and potential bad business practices. Pioneer Valley Credit Union also recommends reporting the scam to the associated Credit Union of which the check has been replicated.

Every scenario is different and not all scams look the same. If you are the victim of a check scam, it is imperative the fraudulent transaction is reported immediately. Pioneer Valley Credit Union has systems in place to protect its member’s security. To report fraud, PVCU’s Contact Center can be reached at (413) 733-2800 or 866-697-8328, Option 3 and via email at


This blog post is intended to provide educational information and shouldn't be considered legal, tax or financial advice. Consult a tax or financial advisor for specific information on how certain laws apply to individual financial situations.

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