What is it?

There are three types of cheque scam: counterfeit, forged and fraudulently altered.


A counterfeit cheque is printed to look exactly like those that are genuine but has been created and written by a criminal for the purposes of committing fraud.


A forged cheque is one that’s been stolen from you and used by a criminal by forging your signature.

Fraudulently Altered

A fraudulently altered cheque is genuine but has been altered in some way before being paid in i.e. altering the payee’s name or the amount of the cheque.

How to spot a cheque scam

  1. You receive a cheque for a greater amount than agreed and are subsequently asked for a refund for the overpayment
  2. You’re asked for immediate delivery of goods or services before a cheque is cleared through your account

Examples of cheque scams

Cheque Overpayment

David* sold his car through a classified ad and agreed a price of £5,000 with the buyer. When the cheque for payment came through, it was for £6,000, a greater amount than agreed. The buyer asked John to return the £1,000 difference by bank transfer. Once David had repaid the difference to the buyer, he discovered that the cheque had bounced.

Cheque Interception

Meena* bought a TV through a classified ad and sent the payment by cheque in the post. Her cheque was intercepted by a criminal, and the payee and the amount was altered, before being cashed in by the criminal.

*These case studies are based on insights from partners

If you believe you’ve fallen for a scam, contact your bank immediately on a number you know to be correct, such as the one listed on your statement, their website or on the back of your debit or credit card.

Report it to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or via actionfraud.police.uk. If you are in Scotland, please report to Police Scotland directly by calling 101 or Advice Direct Scotland on 0808 164 6000.

Always remember

Draw a line through any unused spaces on cheques and complete them using a ballpoint pen or permanent ink.

Keep your chequebook in a safe location and inform your bank of any missing or lost cheques.

Wait for cheques to clear before despatching goods or providing services.

Check bank statements regularly and report any unrecognised transactions to your bank immediately.

Scam warning: Criminals may purport to be from Take Five, using our official branding on websites, social media posts, literature, on the phone or by text. Take Five doesn’t provide endorsement or approval for any products/services and would never call or text anyone.