Checks are generally simple. You sign a check in order to transfer funds from your checking account to another party or to gain money from another party’s checking account, usually in exchange for a good or service. However, some checks do more than convey money between parties. If you receive an unsolicited check in the mail, another party may be hoping to scam you with it.
According to Forbes, unsolicited check fraud occurs when a malicious party sends out checks that may purport to offer a refund, a rebate or free money. In reality, the check contains legal terms that bind you into a paying agreement or taking on a service that you may not want.
Unsolicited checks can act as contracts
If you receive an unsolicited check, look on the back of the check. There may be a short description of terms you would agree to if you sign the check. Generally, unsolicited checks offer you a small amount upfront to become a member of an alleged service but will then obligate you to pay a regular fee going forward unless you cancel the membership. An unsolicited check may obligate you to other long-term commitments like a loan.
The scammer may gain access to your bank account numbers and regularly withdraw money per the terms of the check. In some cases, you could find you have authorized the scammer to gain control of one or more of your services like your phone service. Even if you try to cancel your membership or get out of a loan, the terms of the check may limit the cancellation period or otherwise make it difficult to end your involvement.
Check your financial reports for fraud
If you fear you have signed an unsolicited check, contact your bank to get a look at your recent bank transactions. Consider checking your credit card transactions as well. If you spot expenses that you do not recognize, you may have discovered a sign of unsolicited check fraud and can take action to stop it.
You may need to take steps to secure your identity. A scammer may try to sign you up for other loans or purchases that may not be legal. You may report the fraud to federal authorities so they know someone else is misusing your identity.