At the BCP Business Center, we offer tips on how to stay on the right side of the law. But we also do our best to spread the word about the latest frauds targeting businesses — and this one’s a piece of work. If your company accepts checks or online payments, you’ll want to be on the look-out for a scam that could leave you with a stack of worthless paper.
Here’s what’s happening: In exchange for a fee and some personal information, fraudsters are giving people “instructions” on how to use bank account and routing numbers that don’t belong to them to pay their bills online, or print checks so they can make payments in person or by mail. In one scheme, scammers are using a variation on the “free money from the government” fraud. They tell people to use the routing number of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta — 0610-0014-6 — to make checks and electronic payments through the Automated Clearinghouse (ACH) Network. (No, we’re not offering a how-to here. The number is no longer valid.)
If you get an ACH payment, check, cashier’s check, or certified check with that routing number, look into it. Checks with that number aren’t valid payment instruments. If you take one, you run the risk of not getting paid. So what should you do? Don’t accept the check — and notify the authorities immediately: your state Attorney General, the local office of the FBI, and your bank.
What else can you do to protect your business from fake check rip-offs? Train your staff to watch for warning signs that a paper check might be counterfeit, like:
- no perforated edge on one side of the paper;
- the absence of security features, like a watermark;
- a routing number with fewer than nine digits;
- a bank address on the check that doesn’t match its real address; or
- a flimsy feeling to the paper.
Read Merchants Beware: New "Free Money from the Government" Scam May Cost You to find out more.