Got a check in the mail? How to tell if it's real or fake

PHOENIX - If you opened up your mailbox tomorrow and found a check inside that you weren't expecting, what would you do? Deposit it, right? Not so fast.

How can you be sure that check is the real deal?


We're all probably savvy enough now to know that a check you get in the mail from an African Prince who wants to share his fortune is a fake.

But, today's scammers are getting so good, it's getting hard to tell a real check from a bogus one.

From what I've seen over the years, 9 times out of ten, these are the clues that check you got is phony:

·         If you did nothing to earn the check,

·         If you're selling something, get an overpayment and have to write a check back for the remainder,

·         And if the company name on the check and the company name on the envelope are different.


The checks appear to come from real banks, and real businesses, but the businesses know nothing about it.

The Consumer Federation of America says those are signs it's likely a real check include --

·         It's a settlement from a class action suit. These are very common. 

·         It's for less than $100. Settlements are not for small amounts. 

·         You are not required to do anything but cash it. 

The Consumer Federation also says to beware of checks and letters showing legitimate logos like Walmart, Costco, and Best Buy. 

They often claim you have been chosen to be a mystery shopper.  They are all fake.   

Walmart will not contact you to be a mystery shopper. And no one will send you money in advance to do mystery shopping. 


A good rule of thumb? Fake checks tend to be big checks. And, again, the people who sent them to you usually want you to do more than juts cash them.

So, take some time to find out what you have.

If you need help or need to warn others about a consumer problem or scam, let me know at   or by going to my    "Let Joe Know" Facebook page.

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