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Internet Business - Payment Warnings
Whenever using the internet for business transactions, you should be aware of these precautions: Instant Cash Transfer, Postal Money Orders, and Foreign Cashier's Checks
Instant Cash Transfer
Pay safely online by never using instant cash transfer services such as Western Union or MoneyGram International to pay for your purchases. These payment methods are unsafe when paying someone you do not know.
Be cautious if a seller tells you that he or she will only accept money transfer as a payment method. Most legitimate sellers will accept more than one form of payment. Be suspicious if a seller tells you how to "safeguard" your purchase by putting a money transfer transaction in the name of a friend or loved one, or how to establish a "test question." These actions will not protect you from a fraudulent seller.
Postal Money Orders
The U.S. Postal Inspection Service has a message for you: while the check may be in the mail, it doesn't always mean money in the bank. Scammers using counterfeit checks, commercial money orders, and postal money orders to ”pay” for items are leaving sellers empty handed.. Avoiding this scam is as simple as crossing a street - if sellers apply the same three basic principles: Stop. Look. Listen.
Stop. Never accept an overpayment for any item. Buyers should be advised to make payment in the correct amount. One of the most common signs of a fraud about to occur is the request to accept an overpayment and provide "change".
Look. Familiarize yourself with the security features offered by various forms of payment. Postal Money Orders offer easy to recognize security features that counterfeiters have been unable to replicate.
Listen. Make certain you understand your bank's funds availability policy before you release merchandise to the buyer. Never send merchandise to a buyer BEFORE the check clears the bank. While some checks take only a couple days to clear, others can take several weeks.
If you're not sure a postal money order is authentic, play it safe. Contact your local Postal Inspection Service Office. The Postal Inspection Service is the federal law enforcement arm of the United States Postal Service.
Foreign Cashier's Checks
United States law enforcement is limited due to jurisdictional restraints. Officials warn of a scam that works like this. A buyer (suspect) contacts the seller (victim) of an item advertised on the Internet. The payment is agreed upon and a few days later the victim receives a cashier's check or money order in the mail. The check is in excess of the agreed upon amount. The suspect explains that the overpayment was a mistake (or that it was to cover any custom's fees) and that the victim should "refund" the excess back to them. The overpayment is requested via Western Union to expedite the money back.
Without waiting for the cashier's check to clear, the victim immediately sends the overpayment to a Western Union office in another country. The victim emails the code number for pickup to the suspect. The original cashier's check is fraudulent and the victim is taken for however much was sent via Western Union for overpayment.
The basics of the scam are the same; however, it has evolved over time. Following are a few tips to help prevent people from becoming a victim.
- Meet the other person face-to-face
- Demand the exact payment agreed upon
- Do not accept overpayment; send back original funds
- Wait for any check or funds from the other person to clear though the bank
- Confirm validity of money order with U.S. Postal Service or issuing company
- Do not be intimidated by threats of the suspect going to the FBI