Is that check real or fake? The red flags so you don't waste your money

Posted at 5:39 PM, Aug 23, 2016
and last updated 2016-08-23 18:27:50-04

These days there are so many class actions settlement that could bring you money, such as money back from overpriced tuna fish, moldy  washing machines, and other products.

But how do you know if offers of free money are real, or if you could be falling for a scam?

By now everyone knows that a check in the mail from an African prince, wanting to share his fortune, is fake.

But today's scammers are more sophisticated: is this check real or bogus?  The Consumer Federation of America says watch for these signs an unexpected check is phony:

               --it's for only a partial payment:  you have to send money to get the rest.

                --it requires you to wire funds by western union for any reason.

                --or the company name on the check and company name on the envelope are different.        

Signs of a real check?

                --its a settlement from a class action suit.

                --its for less than $100.

                --you are not required to do anything but cash it.

Sadly these days, fake checks are fooling even savvy people.  The Consumer Federation some checks show legitimate logos like Walmart, Costco, and Best Buy.  They often claim you have been chosen to be a mystery shopper, and they are all fake.   No one will send you money in advance to do mystery shopping.

Bottom line… if a check shows up unannounced in your mailbox, do your homework! Make sure there are no strings attached if you cash  it.