Check that check

At the BCP Business Center, we offer tips on how to stay on the right side of the law.  But we also do our best to spread the word about the latest frauds targeting businesses — and this one’s a piece of work.  If your company accepts checks or online payments, you’ll want to be on the look-out for a scam that could leave you with a stack of worthless paper.

Here’s what’s happening:  In exchange for a fee and some personal information, fraudsters are giving people “instructions” on how to use bank account and routing numbers that don’t belong to them to pay their bills online, or print checks so they can make payments in person or by mail.  In one scheme, scammers are using a variation on the “free money from the government” fraud.  They tell people to use the routing number of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta — 0610-0014-6 — to make checks and electronic payments through the Automated Clearinghouse (ACH) Network.  (No, we’re not offering a how-to here.  The number is no longer valid.)

If you get an ACH payment, check, cashier’s check, or certified check with that routing number, look into it.  Checks with that number aren’t valid payment instruments.  If you take one, you run the risk of not getting paid.  So what should you do?  Don’t accept the check — and notify the authorities immediately:  your state Attorney General, the local office of the FBI, and your bank.

What else can you do to protect your business from fake check rip-offs?  Train your staff to watch for warning signs that a paper check might be counterfeit, like:

  • no perforated edge on one side of the paper;
  • the absence of security features, like a watermark;
  • a routing number with fewer than nine digits;
  • a bank address on the check that doesn’t match its real address; or
  • a flimsy feeling to the paper.

Read Merchants Beware: New "Free Money from the Government" Scam May Cost You to find out more.

 

2 Comments

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Just to let you know I did a search on the routing number above (you said is no longer valid) on the Federal Reserve E-Payments Routing Directory http://www.fedwiredirectory.frb.org/results.cfm. It still shows there as FRB ATL ATLANTA GA. You may want to check into why that is now. Good article. I have been checking with the fedwire, NIC and FDIC on every check Cashier's, Official Check I take in to assure it is not on the Fraud Lists. We will not accept most personal checks and then only up to a minimal amount only with proper Identification.

You've raised a very good point. The number is no longer valid in the sense that any payment order sent to that number will be rejected. But it'll appear in some databases for a while still. As you can imagine, it typically takes longer to update the databases than it does to turn off a number operationally.

While that process is underway, it sounds like you're taking sound steps to be on the look-out for fraud.

Thanks very much for your comment.

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