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Contractors, protect yourself from check overpayment scams!

Check overpayment scams happen in many industries, including the construction industry. These scams begin when a scammer overpays for a service, then asks the victim to return the difference. The check for the original payment bounces after the victim has wired the “overpayment” to the scammer. The scammer walks away from the transaction with the money from the victim, and the victim is left without payment.

Here’s a scenario:

A home inspector is asked to conduct a home inspection at a vacant residence. Upon completion, the “customer” wants to pay them more than the cost of the inspection with the request that they cash the check and send the remaining balance back to the “customer”. The entire transaction occurs over texts and emails. The home inspector and the customer never meet in person.

The payment method (often cashier’s check) is fraudulent, but the victim has sent the balance back before the bank denies the funds.

Protect yourself from check overpayment scams.
  • Always meet with the customer in person.
  • Never accept a check for more than what was requested.
  • Never agree to wire funds back to a customer.
  • Be cautious when accepting out of state checks; request checks from local banks whenever possible.
  • Get a contract when working with a customer, even if the payment amount falls below the $2,000 requirement threshold. Listen to your instincts. If something about a job doesn’t seem right, don’t accept it.

If you are contacted by a scammer or think you have fallen victim to a scam, contact the Oregon Office of the Attorney General at 1-877-877-9392, or online at www.oregonconsumer.gov.

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