Unlike a personal check, a cashier’s check is a direct obligation of the bank. As a result, there is virtually no risk that a cashier’s check would bounce or otherwise be invalid. Unfortunately, fraudsters can create phony cashier’s checks and use them for scams. Learn how to verify a cashier’s check so you can avoid being the victim of check fraud.
How to Verify a Cashier’s Check
You can take steps of precaution to ensure that a cashier’s check is legitimate. To avoid being a victim of fraud, follow these steps for how to verify a cashier’s check:
- Don’t accept a cashier’s check for more than the purchase price. In addition to the overpayment scam, other common scams to watch out for include prize or lottery awards or prepayment for mystery shopping involving check deposits and wire transfers. If the circumstances seem too good to be true, they probably are.
- Check the check. Checks often include a distinct feature specific to the bank and often tell you what to look for. If the check states there is a watermark or microprint, look for that on the check. If it’s missing, the check might not be valid. Typos are another giveaway that a check is phony, as fake cashier’s checks sometimes come from senders overseas.
- Go to the bank. If the check is issued from a bank that has a branch near you, there’s no better approach than to take the check into the bank personally and ask for verification. There’s no charge to verify a cashier’s check. At a larger bank, such as Wells Fargo, cashier’s check verification would follow a set process. Only the bank that issued the check can truly verify it.
- Call the bank. If you can’t visit in person, independently confirm the phone number of the bank as listed on the check. Call the bank and ask to verify the check. Verify the check number, the name of the person who gave you the check and the amount. All banks require these pieces of information to verify a cashier’s check.
One common scam involves someone overpaying for an online purchase. For example, a non-U.S. buyer sends a cashier’s check seemingly from a U.S. bank and asks you to refund the overage separately. Federal law requires that funds from a deposited cashier’s check be made available in one business day. By the time the fraudulent check is discovered days or weeks later, the buyer is nowhere to be found. Because you made the deposit, the bank can hold you liable for the fraud.
How to Cash a Cashier’s Check
Where can you cash a cashier’s check? It’s best to cash or deposit a cashier’s check at the bank that issued it, as the validation process is easier. Otherwise, you’ll need to cash it at another bank where you have an account. You’ll need to present ID verifying you are the payee the check is made out to, along with your bank account number or ATM card.
Because of the prevalence of fraud involving cashier’s checks, a bank that did not issue the check might not allow you to cash or deposit the check. Or, you might be subject to a longer wait period for the funds to become available. Discuss this issue with the bank prior to the transaction.
Certain check-cashing businesses, as well as many Walmart stores, can cash a cashier’s check for you, but they will likely charge a fee. Walmart, however, promises the cash immediately.