A Word about Money Order Fraud

Don't Become the Victim of Money Order Fraud

Money order fraud is becoming an increasingly common crime and while it isn't exactly identity theft, I felt it was a topic we needed to cover for our readers. If you sell items online through sites like eBay and Craigslist.com or in the newspaper, you need this information...

It Starts Out Innocently Enough...

You have an item to sell and a potential buyer contacts you. They want to pay you with a money order or cashier's check and will send it in the mail straight away. Sounds innocent enough right? It might be, unless you receive a check for more than your asking price.

The Con

So you get a money order for more than your asking price. What do you do? Simply deposit it and send the difference back to the buyer, right? Wrong! That's exactly what the person perpetuating the money order fraud wants you to do.

The money order you received is likely a fake. You're going to deposit it, send real money back to the buyer and then when that money order bounces, you're going to owe the money back to the bank. You're out whatever money you sent to the buyer and you're also out the item that you "sold" to them.

Protecting Yourself

If you want to protect yourself from money order fraud, treat money orders just like a personal check. Wait at least five to seven business days for it to clear and if you do receive one for more than what you asked, simply refuse to accept it and ask the buyer to send you a new one.

While we'd like to think that people are trustworthy and have the best intentions in mind, it's not always the case. Be vigilant when conducting transactions with strangers, and keep the above advice in mind if you want to avoid becoming a victim of money order fraud.

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