ATLANTA (9/30/10)--The Georgia Credit Union Affiliates (GCUA) is announcing the start of a program in the state to protect consumers and financial institutions from fake check scams. GCUA joins the Georgia Governor’s Office of Consumer Affairs, the Consumer Federation of America (CFA) and a banking trade group in the effort. Under the program, participating credit unions and banks will distribute a CFA brochure, “Don’t Become a Target,” to consumers who deposit checks or money orders of $1,000 or more or who withdraw $1,000 or more. About 60 credit unions and banks have signed up to participate. CFA will provide the brochures for free. The average loss to fake check scams is $3,000 to $4,000. In the scams, consumers receive a genuine-looking check or money order and are asked to wire money in return. The check also can be described as an advance on a sum that the consumer has won in a sweepstakes or lottery. The consumer is instructed to send money to pay taxes on the check. In other situations, consumers are recruited to work as mystery shoppers or to process payments for a company. They are instructed to send money as part of the job, but when the check or money order bounces, the victim owes the money back to the financial institution where it was deposited or cashed. “Fake check scams are a serious problem for consumers,” said Cindy Connelly, GCUA senior vice president of association services. “Credit unions want to do all they can to educate their members. Consumers and credit union personnel need to be able to recognize the warning signs of fraud to prevent it.” The Connecticut Credit Union League also has partnered with CFA on the project. Connecticut was chosen as the first state to launch the project because seniors are especially susceptible to fraud, and the state has a high number of people who are age 65 and older (News Now Sept. 15).