How to Avoid Unclaimed Money and Cashier's Check Scams

Some of the most common postal scams are to send someone a notice that they have unclaimed money, or to send them a cashier’s check for hundreds of dollars out of the blue. People’s greed can get the better of them, and they will respond to these notices and cash these checks without a second thought, causing problems that will cost them even more money.

If you have received something similar in the mail and you are not sure whether it is legitimate or not, follow these precautions to avoiding unclaimed money and cashier’s check scams.

1: Never reply to an unclaimed money notice by providing your SSN or bank number. Most unclaimed money letters are attempts at identity theft, and they will often ask you to supply your SSN for ‘tax purposes’ and your bank account number so that they can send you the money by direct deposit. If you manage to contact the sender and they tell you that they cannot send checks, you know it’s a scam.

2: If the unclaimed money notice comes with a check, do not cash it. The checks are almost always counterfeit and you could face fines for passing bad checks. If the check bears the name of real bank, contact the bank to let them know someone sent you a forgery and the bank will trace the scammer.

3: If a stranger sends you a money order from Western Union or MoneyGram, do not attempt to claim the money. These documents are almost always forgeries. Should you be successful in cashing it, the sender may send another person to your house to collect the money, claiming that you stole it, or they may pressure you to wire the money to another stranger. And once the financial instituion that gave you the money realizes it was a forged document, you will have to pay back the money to them as well. The result? You lose money and the scammer gains money.

Using the US Postal Service to commit fraud is a violation of federal law, so if you have received these scams in the mail, you can contact your local Post Office. You can also contact the Federal Trade Commission at 1-877-382-4357, or your state’s Attorney General’s office.

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