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I received a check from a new employer whom I met online. The employer needs me to send money back. How can I verify the check?

This is a typical fraud scam, usually referred to as a “work from home scam.” They usually start with a job posting on an online platform such as a social media site, online marketplace, or career building website. The ad will boast short and flexible hours, great pay and little training. The job may have you wrap your car in an advertisement. Or it may involve you becoming a secret shopper. Either way, the new employer will mail a check to you. Then they’ll expect you to deposit the check into your checking account and use the funds to purchase equipment or pay for items for the job.

The employer will request you send the remainder of the funds back immediately. They may ask that the money be sent by Western Union or MoneyGram. Or they may request you send the funds through a prepaid card such as GreenDot, American Express, or an iTunes gift card. By the time the check has been returned as fraudulent, you have sent money to a fraudster who is waiting to take it so it cannot be retrieved.

If you’ve decided to work for an employer you found online, be sure to research them thoroughly. Look up the business online, give them a call, and make sure the company is legitimate. Do not call the phone numbers provided in the paperwork sent by the “employer.”

If you’ve received a check, take it to the financial institution on which it is drawn. They will be able to verify if the check is legitimate. If you think the check is part of a scam, take it to your nearest RCU branch manager or call 1 (800) 479-7028 to speak with an RCU member service representative.

Following these steps will help protect you from falling victim to a fraudulent check scam.

Following these steps will help protect you from falling victim to a fraudulent check scam. If you deposit a fraudulent check into your account and spend the money (or send it to someone else), you will be held responsible for the dollar amount if the check bounces. This may result in a negative balance in your account. Even if the funds are made available to you, there is no guarantee that the check is legitimate.