TYLER - Better Business Bureau (BBB) is alerting all banks, credit unions and check-cashing companies to be on the lookout for individuals who are attempting to cash fake payroll checks at local financial institutions. BBB reminds businesses to verify the legitimacy of the check and of the individual attempting to cash the check before finalizing the transaction.

According to the Tyler Police Financial Crimes Unit, several individuals have targeted financial institutions in Tyler, Lindale, Rusk and Marshall. The checks were forged using correct bank routing and check numbers, and the forms of identification used in in this particular case have been from Cuba, Guatemala, Argentina and other Latin American countries.

“We really want to emphasize that businesses take extra precautions to ensure the check is valid,” Tyler Police Public Information Officer, Don Martin said. “If the form of identification is from another country, request a second form of identification.”

BBB recommends that businesses review the following when cashing or accepting checks:

Identification. Request two forms of identification, particularly if the individual is not a current account holder or if the form of identification presented is from out of state or out of the country. The photo on the card and the name on the check should match the person cashing the check.

Signature. Insist that the check is signed/endorsed at your place of business. Compare the signature to those on the forms of identification.

Inspect. Most checks have multiple security features, so inspect every check you receive. Examine the edges of the check and look for clean edges. Watch for jagged edges, smudging, discoloration, and any signs of tampering. Legitimate payroll checks also typically have the employee’s name printed by computer, not by hand and not by typewriter.

Verify.  If ever there is a question regarding authenticity, contact the financial institution to verify the bank account is real or contact the payroll check's issuer to see if the check was issued and if the amount being requested is accurate.

Educate.  Your employees should be trained on the forgery red flags before they're allowed to accept payroll checks. Teaching them how to spot these forgeries can lessen the chances these fakes pass through the cracks.

“Altered and fraudulent payroll checks often have telltale signs of forgery, but an excellent fake may fool even the most knowledgeable professional,” Mechele Agbayani Mills, President and CEO of BBB Serving Central East Texas said. “When in doubt, don’t accept the check.”

For more tips on how to be a savvy consumer, go to bbb.org. To report fraudulent activity or unscrupulous business practices, please call BBB at 903-581-5704 or use BBB ScamTracker.