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There's a site called TheLaw.com that lets visitors ask questions and have them answered by real lawyers.
Recently, a guy who called himself selby226 wrote in with a tale of check fraud woe ...
I recently received a cashier's check from a potential tenant that was looking to secure an apartment I have for rent. When I received the check, I took it to my bank for deposit.
My bank did not put a hold on the check and made the funds immediately available to me. I specifically asked the bank if the check was "ok", and they said it was fine.
A couple of days after the deposit, this potential tenant asked for half the money back and had decided not to rent with me, but he needed the money to be wire transferred since he was abroad. Normally I would be suspicious of a wire transfer request, but I figured it was safe in this case since the bank had indicated to me that the funds were available from the deposited check. So I sent the money.
Now, 7 days later, the bank has determined that the check was essentially counterfeit, making me a victim of fraud.
The bank immediately withdrew the entire amount of the check.
They are refusing to take any responsibility. I've put a call in to the NCUA and the Better Business Bureau, but in the meantime my account's pretty much wiped out.
The bank does not have any responsibility in regards to the check or the funds that you used assuming they were good.
When it comes to check fraud, you could be on your own.
Unfortunately, the responsibility for forgery losses is shifting towards bank customers, rather than solely on banks. And on top of this, there is the expense and lost time related to investigating the crime.
To minimize the possibility of becoming a victim and being responsible for the losses, you must exercise due diligence.
One part of this is to implement careful practices regarding your checks as described in our free Check Fraud Prevention Tipsheet.
Another is to use checks with well implemented security features like these.