Connecticut Water issues warning regarding fake check scheme

Dripping tap

CLINTON, Conn. (WTNH) — A warning has been issued for Connecticut residents about a fake check scheme that has impacted people across the country.

Connecticut Water says it has received numerous reports from people who received bogus checks with the company’s name on it.

The company says the scam may work a few different ways. One scenario involved a check being sent to pay for a service. The “seller” then contacts the customer and asks them to wire back some of the money after the check is deposited, saying that too much money was sent out. The check then bounces, leaving the victim liable for the total amount of the check.

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Maureen Westbrook, Connecticut Water’s VP of Customer and Regulatory Affairs, stated, “We want to get the word out so that people can protect themselves and avoid getting ripped off…We received calls from people from Arizona to Massachusetts who had responded to online advertisements to earn money and were sent fake checks that had Connecticut Water’s name on them.”

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Tips on what consumers should do to avoid the scam have been offered by Connecticut Water, the Department of Consumer Protection, and AARP:

  • Know who you’re dealing with. In any transaction, independently confirm the buyer’s name, street address and telephone number.
  • Don’t accept a check for more than your selling price, no matter how tempting. Ask the buyer to write the check for the correct amount. If the buyer refuses to send the correct amount, return the check. Don’t send the merchandise.
  • Consider an alternative method of payment. As a seller, you can suggest an escrow service or online payment service. There may be a charge for an escrow service. If the buyer insists on using a particular escrow or online payment service you’ve never heard of, check it out. Visit its website, and read its terms of agreement and privacy policy. Call the customer service line. If there isn’t one or if you call and can’t get answers about the service’s reliability, don’t use the service. To learn more about escrow services and online payment systems, visit https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0020-shopping-online.
  • If you accept payment by check, ask for a check drawn on a local bank, or a bank with a local branch. That way you can make a personal visit to make sure the check is valid. If that’s not possible, call the bank where it was purchased and ask if the check is valid. Get the bank’s phone number from directory assistance or an internet site that you know and trust, not from the person who gave you the check.
  • Never wire money or pay in any untraceable form. Legitimate buyers don’t pressure you to send money by Western Union or a similar company. In addition, you have little recourse if there’s a problem with a wire transaction.
  • Resist any pressure to “act now.” If the buyer’s offer is good now, it should be good after the check clears the issuing bank.

Anyone with questions or concerns can call Connecticut Water customer service at 1-800-286-5700.

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