AG warns of fraudulent check scam

The Consumer Protection Division is warning South Dakota consumers to be cautious of a check scam that is using counterfeit checks which claim to be issued from a South Dakota financial institution.  Even though the checks may have real routing numbers and look authentic the checks are not genuine.  
Service First Credit Union of Sioux Falls has received numerous phone calls from individuals who have received these fraudulent checks. These official looking checks have been mailed to individuals throughout the United States who think they are involved with a work at home venture such as secret shopper.  "Anyone can print a check and send it to you, but that doesn't mean the account is real or the transaction was authorized by the account holder," said Mike Sunvold, Vice President of Operations, Service First Credit Union.  
The checks look as if they have been sent directly from Service First Credit Union and the consumer is instructed to cash the check and wire most of the money back to the scammer for fees or survey's for a "mystery shopper" venture. But the secret shopper scenario is just a scam to get the consumer's money. "It's important to never cash these checks or wire the money to anyone.  If you deposit the check and wire the money, your bank would soon learn that the check was a fake and you would be responsible to pay it back," said Jackley.  
Here are a few tips to avoid becoming a victim of this type of scam:
• Call or visit the banking institute on which the check is written to find out if a suspicious check is genuine.
• Never wire money to anyone you do not know.  The money you wired cannot be retrieved, and you are responsible for any funds you withdraw against that check.  
• Be cautious about accepting checks- even a cashier's check- from people you do not know.
• Know the difference between funds being available for withdrawal from your account and a check having finally cleared. It could take 6 weeks or longer to know if the check is truly legitimate.
• Protect your privacy.  Never provide your Social Security number, driver's license number, credit card number or bank account information.
If you have received one of these checks please contact Service One Credit Union at 605-336-1047 or if you need additional information on this scam or any others contact the Consumer Protection Division at 1-800-300-1986 or at consumerhelp@state.sd.us.

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