Don’t get too excited if you get a check from Walmart for $1,991.30. It could actually ruin your bank account.
Thousands of Americans have received a fake letter, including a fake check, that tells receivers they’re going to be part of the retail company’s new “Quality Control” program, The Political Insider reported.
People are then encouraged to sign up online with a user name ID and password, which will then allow them to cash the check and shop at Walmart.
“But once the check is in your account, the scammers are able to drain your entire bank account. That’s why you should throw your check away immediately!” The Political Insider reported.
Here’s a look at the check and the letter that comes with it:
Users who sign up for the “Quality Control” program are also brought to another website to give feedback, which The Independent Journal found to be pretty convincing, as a way to try to fool people.
Walmart, though, doesn’t hire third-party or independent secret shoppers, according to The IJ Review.
“Mystery shopping, sometimes referred to as secret shopping, is where an individual is hired to ‘act’ like a customer and evaluate services at a business,” according to Walmart’s corporate website. “The individual is essentially paid to shop and then report on the experience. Walmart does NOT utilize these services. This mystery shopper scam uses fraudulent offers, fake checks and wire transfers to persuade unsuspecting consumers into sending money to fraudsters who are often located outside the U.S.”
This isn’t the first time the scam has made rounds with Americans. The scam’s origins date back to 2011, according to Consumerist, and happened again back in March of this year.
In fact, it actually put Americans in some debt last year, according to NBC News. Some Americans found the deposited check did increase their funds, until the Federal Trade Commission found the checks to be fraudulent and took the money out of their bank accounts, according to NBC. In these cases, “the consumer is responsible for any money withdrawn against that check,” according to NBC.
Victims of identity scams like these have increased in the last few decades. In fact, someone’s identity was stolen every two seconds in 2014, with 13.1 million total Americans falling victim to identity theft scams, according to Fox Business. Financial scams are particularly aplenty among the elderly.
But there are ways for Americans to avoid these issues. The IJ Review suggests people who are weary of checks or offers they receive in the mail call the Better Business Bureau to confirm whether the sender is legitimate or not.
“And, as many learned the hard way, don’t cash a check unless you are certain of its origin,” IJ Review suggests.
IJ Review also suggests shoppers pay with credit cards, since transactions can be canceled if they are done by someone fraudulent.
People should constantly be reading their monthly statements so they can catch any issues that may arise, according to the Federal Trade Commission.
People should also avoid depositing checks they receive from companies, too, since it could be damaging to their spending and bank accounts if checks prove fraudulent, like they have with the Walmart case, according to the FTC.
And never respond to a message that asks for personal or financial information, according to the FTC.
“It doesn't matter whether the message comes as an email, a phone call, a text message or an ad. Don’t click on links or call phone numbers included in the message, either,” the FTC suggests. “It’s called phishing. The crooks behind these messages are trying to trick you into revealing sensitive information. If you got a message like this and you are concerned about your account status, call the number on your credit or debit card — or your statement — and check on it.”
For more on safe shopping:
Herb Scribner is a writer for Deseret News National. Send him an email at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @herbscribner.