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SCAM ALERT: Check Fraud on the Rise

Reports of check fraud have risen 65 percent since 2015, and individual losses are six times higher than all other fraud types.

Washington, D.C.—U.S. Senator Susan Collins, the Chairman of the Aging Committee, is warning of a sharp increase in cases of check fraud.  According to the FTC, reports of fake checks have grown by 65 percent since 2015.  In 2019, Americans reported more than 27,000 fake check scams with reported losses of more than $28 million.


The scam is unusual because it disproportionately targets young adults.  Last year, people in their twenties were more than twice as likely as people 30 and older to report losing money on a fake check scam.  The median individual loss reported on fake checks was $1,988, compared to $320 on all fraud types combined.


“Putting a stop to scams that rob Americans of their hard-earned money is one of my top priorities,” said Senator Collins.  “The sharp increase in incidents of check fraud is a good reminder to be extremely cautious of accepting checks from anyone you do not know.  If you receive a suspicious check, please report it to law enforcement and the Senate Aging Committee’s Fraud Hotline at 1-855-303-9470.”


This scam occurs when criminals send bad checks to victims, typically for fake freelance jobs like secret shopper or “car wrap” advertising or for items bought online.  Once the victims deposit the checks and the funds appear to be in their accounts, the con artists tell the victims to give some of the money back, either by depositing it into a separate account the scammers control or through gift cards.  When the checks ultimately bounce, the victims are on the hook for the money they sent.


The FTC provided these tips to avoid check fraud:

  • If someone sends you a check and tells you to send money – whether by wiring money or buying gift cards – you can bet it’s a scam.
  • Even if you see the money in your account, the bank can still take it back if the check later bounces. If you don’t know the person who wrote the check, don’t send money. Period.
  • If you’re selling online, never accept a check for more than your asking price.


Since 2013, Senator Collins’ Aging Committee has held 25 hearings to investigate scams.  Each year, the Aging Committee releases a Fraud Book, which details the top 10 most common scams reported to the Committee’s Fraud Hotline (1-855-303-9470).