Chicago Bankruptcy Lawyers See Rise in Phony Check Scams

Sometimes the smartest thing you can do is to trust your gut. But unfortunately, that can be hard to do when faced with the prospect of free money. That's why more than one million people in the U.S. have fallen for a growing phony check scam.

So far, it's estimated that one-third of all Americans have received one of the checks, according to MSNBC. Instinct should tell you that there's something very suspicious about free money that randomly appears in your mailbox. But the problem is that these checks are so authentic-looking that even bank tellers have difficulty identifying them as fake.

Here's how the scam works. You receive a large check in the mail with an explanation -maybe you've won a contest, maybe you've been hired by a work-at-home business and this is your upfront paycheck (work-from-home - now there's another scam we'll have to discuss in the future), whatever the reason, you're told to deposit the check and wire most of the money somewhere, to pay taxes for instance.

Of course, that should raise an even bigger red flag than the check itself. No company is going to pay you, then ask for some of the money back - or have you send them your taxes. But we're in tough economic times and folks are desperate for any extra cash they can get their hands on. So people deposit the check in the bank and wait until the check clears. Unfortunately, most of us don't accurately understand the banking process. When a check "clears" all that means is that you can withdraw funds, it doesn't mean that the check is good. After a week or so, the check ends up bouncing - and you're responsible for whatever amount you withdrew.

It's a tricky ploy, but there are two ways to avoid it. First, you can use common sense. No legitimate company is going to pay you out of the blue and they are certainly not going to ask you to wire a portion of the money elsewhere. Trust your instinct - if it feels suspicious, it probably is. Second, you can take care of your finances so that you aren't desperate enough to fall for shady schemes. Imagine a life with money left over at the end of the month, a life where you don't lose sleep over whether you can pay your mortgage because you've forked most of your paycheck over to credit card companies- in short, a life without debt. Like what you see? Bankruptcy is a proven way to make it a reality.

Find out what bankruptcy can do for you when you sign up for a free personal debt analysis with a DebtStoppers attorney in Chicago or Atlanta. It's the legitimate way to put more money - your own money - in your bank account.

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