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By Ashleigh, K-Staff
How this scam works
You’re at the ATM when a stranger pulls up, looking concerned.
“Can you do me a huge favor?” he says. “I don’t have a bank account, but my friend wrote me a check, and I gotta cash it right away. Can you deposit it in your account, and then pull out the money for me?”
What is a good Samaritan to do? You decide to deposit the check at the ATM, then withdraw the amount of the check to give to him. He walks away happy with hundreds of your dollars in his pocket.
The next afternoon, the check bounces.
You’ve given this thief your own money and may now owe your financial institution fees associated with the bounced check. The thief is long gone. And since you properly withdrew the money, you have little to no recourse to recoup those funds. This increasingly common ATM scam plays on your urge to be helpful and kind, to look out for your fellow neighbor. But depositing checks from strangers is a risky business, even without this suspicious request to convert them into cash.
That is because the depositing of any check triggers a hold procedure based on the type and amount of the check; the funds will not be immediately available. At Kirtland FCU, processing occurs nightly for any check deposited before 3:30 p.m. local time. Checks deposited at night will not process until the next business day. By the time this processing occurs and the check bounces, so has the thief.
How you can avoid this scam
If a stranger asks you to cash a check for them, the simple answer is, “No.”
If this occurs while you’re at an ATM, leave the area immediately and report the incident to the institution that owns the ATM.
If you need help or have a question, contact our Member Contact Center at 1-800-880-5328.