Georgia bank officials and consumer advocates want to crack down on fake check scams, a growing problem in the state's tough economy.
The typical fraud, officials say, involves a person getting a genuine-looking check or money order in the mail. They are then directed to pay some tax to claim a bigger price. Typically, there is no money, and consumers are left liable for the bad check.
Consumer advocates say the average loss to victims is $3-to-$4,000 dollars.
Joe Brannen with the Georgia Bankers Association says con artists target all groups of people:
“It’s not a class distinction here...it’s just wherever the con artist can find someone to prey on, they’re going to do that. We’re doing everything we can from the financial institution side to stop the checks from even going into the system.”
Anne Infinger with the Governor’s Office of Consumer Affairs says in a tough economy, people looking to start their own home business are often looking for a quick monetary boost to get going:
“When they get that letter in the mail, they don’t know that it’s just a random letter that’s been sent out to victims everywhere. They think it’s in response to the grant application they’ve submitted.”
A new program focuses on consumer awareness. At least 60 banks banks and credit unions will give brochures to every customer that deposits or withdraws $1,000 or more.