How to Handle Unexpected Checks

Did you get a check in the mail you weren't expecting? Maybe even one you were expecting, but it looks a little funny? There are ways to verify it to make sure you're not depositing a counterfeit check – and it all starts with the source.

Checks from a business

First things first: look up the business online. A quick scan of their website should let you know if the company is legitimate. Then, use the phone number on their site to call and verify if they wrote the check. They will typically ask for the check number, account number, and dollar amount. If they can't find it in their system, it's most likely counterfeit. Go ahead and shred the check.

Checks from an individual

Before you cash an unexpected check, ask yourself a few questions. If you answer "yes" to any of these, it's most likely a counterfeit check and you should destroy it:

  • Is this a person I don't know?
  • Is this person from out of state?
  • Did they purchase something from me and send too much money?

The last point is a common counterfeit pitfall. Scammers will send a check for more than expected – oftentimes asking you to cash it and send some back – only for the check to process a couple days later and leave you without the money in your account.

Official checks and cashier's checks

If you're confronted with a check from a financial institution, look it up online and call the number listed on their website. Since it's a cashier's or official check, they have to verify it for you. Most of the time, the institution already knows about the counterfeit checks and will provide you a description, but this quick phone call can save you a headache. If they can't find it, you should shred it.

Still have questions?

Remember, if you're ever unsure about a check, just ask. Bring it to your local office along with any accompanying letter and our representatives will help you verify the check. It's the best way to protect yourself and your account.

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