How to Identify a Good Cashier's Check

Cashier's checks can be fraudulent.

Legitimate cashier’s checks are a safe method for transferring money, since the person purchasing the check must provide the funds to the banking institution before the check is prepared. In recent years, various scams have become common that bilk the receiver out of money or merchandise, and many of these occur in Internet sales or in classified ad transactions. Many fraudulent cashier’s checks look legitimate, but there are a few ways to identify a good cashier’s check and ways to protect yourself from being scammed.

Look carefully at the check. If the person who sent the check claims to be in one state or country, the cashier’s check should be from the same state or country. The signature should be original and in ink. The date should be current, and you should be the payee.

Make certain the amount is the agreed-upon amount. If the amount is correct, the cashier’s check may be legitimate. A scam where the cashier’s check is for too much money and you are to send the difference to the maker or a third party is one of the common uses of fraudulent cashier’s checks, according to the Office of the Comptroller of Currency.

Look up the person in a database of individuals like Intelius or White Pages or by checking the phone number in a search engine. See if the information they gave matches the online search. If the information matches, you are more likely to have a good cashier's check.

Insist that the sender provide a cashier’s check drawn on a bank with a local branch, and when it arrives, take it to the local bank and have it verified. This is important because you may receive the funds and the bank will charge back the total amount if the cashier’s check is fraudulent. The chargeback may be weeks later, long after you have sent the merchandise and spent the money. There is a difference in funds available for withdrawal and funds clearing, since banking regulations require availability of funds before they have cleared.

Use the FDIC website to see if there is a notification online for fraudulent cashier’s checks with the routing number shown on the check. The FDIC provides some warnings to consumers for cashier’s check fraud. Use the FDIC website Bank Find or Institution Directory feature to check the bank information shown on the cashier’s check.

Keep the goods or services until you are sure the cashier’s check is valid. Do not be rushed by the sender of the check who insists there is an emergency. An honest buyer who provides a good cashier’s check will understand.

Linda Richard has been a legal writer and antiques appraiser for more than 25 years, and has been writing online for more than 12 years. Richard holds a bachelor's degree in English and business administration. She has operated a small business for more than 20 years. She and her husband enjoy remodeling old houses and are currently working on a 1970s home.