by Kristin Lewis Hawkins
When it comes time to sell your calves every year, do you accept cashier’s checks?
Many people assume a cashier’s check, which is a check issued by a bank and payable to a specific person, is as good as cash. By using a cashier’s check, a buyer is guaranteed those funds by the issuing bank instead of gambling on the legitimacy of a personal check.
Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association (TSCRA) special rangers want to remind cattle owners that this is not always the case. Thieves can create fake checks with a home computer and printer that would fool most people. Here are eight tips to avoid cashier’s check fraud.
Know Your Buyer
Refuse cashier’s checks from strangers. Make other arrangements for payment, such as a wire transfer.
Trust Your Gut
Does something feel a bit off about the transaction? Has the buyer insisted on changing the agreement or has a litany of excuses or extenuating circumstances? It may be better to rely on a more dependable method of payment or arrange with the buyer to hold the cattle or product until the paying bank has cleared the funds. If the buyer can’t or won’t do this, it could be because it’s a scam.
Use Common Sense
Is the buyer in a rush? Are they knowledgeable about what they’re buying? Do they want to forego other methods of secure payment? These factors may indicate a scam.
Give the Check a Critical Eye
Does the cashier’s check look fake? Are there misspelled words? Is the paper poor quality or missing security features like watermarks?
Purchase Price Only
Don’t accept a check written for an amount over the purchase price. Scammers will sometimes offer a check over the purchase price and then request the seller to send them the overage via wire transfer or Western Union after the check has been deposited.
Use a Local Branch of the Bank
Ask for a cashier’s check written by a bank that has a local branch so you can verify the check is real, once it arrives. They might be in a better position to see if a check is genuine versus asking an unrelated bank.
When Will the Check Clear the Bank?
Know the difference between funds being available for withdrawal from your account (usually this can happen quickly, within a business day or so) and the paying bank clearing the funds. It could take a cashier’s check days or weeks to clear the paying bank.
Look up the Bank Phone Number
Yourself Look up the bank contact information to verify the check. The telephone number provided on the check is probably not associated with a bank, but rather with the scam artist.
If you have been victimized by a fraudulent check scam, call your police department and your TSCRA special ranger. To find your local special ranger, visit www.tscra.org.
Note: TSCRA has 30 special rangers stationed strategically throughout Texas and Oklahoma who have in-depth knowledge of the cattle industry and are trained in all facets of law enforcement. All are commissioned as Special Rangers by the Texas Department of Public Safety and/or the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation.