So we can't comment on scams now? {no, not a rule}

In another thread, Mod Chronos said (ref: “How does this person-sending-us-a-check scam work? - #70”)

So if poster #1 says, “Never give money to supposed Nigerian Princes,” and poster #2 says, “Aways give money to supposed Nigerian Princes,” both posters are likely to be admonished or worse? That’s the way I interpret Chronos’ advice.

Before I complain further, is that really what you mean?

It was directed at DrDeth who received the original warning.

OK, so the “you” in Chronos’ post was a specific you, not a general you? That was not obvious to me, but I can understand. We have had posters in the past who had special instructions that only applied to them.

Yes, this was a directive specifically to @DrDeth .

Thanks, guys! (That’s a general “guy”, not a specific one, nor a gender reference.)

The directive was linked to the original warning given to @DrDeth but I agree that it could have been more clear.

I am having a hard time understanding how it is a moddable offense to advise a poster to ask the bank what to do, and then do what they tell you.

When you’re cashing or depositing a check with all the hallmarks of a scam, it’s terrible advice to tell someone to trust a bank teller’s judgment as to whether a check is legitimate or not. Because they have no way of knowing.

It’s bad advice, and when a poster has a history of bad advice, has been told in the past to stop dispensing dangerous advice in that area, and continues to do so, the warning is absolutely deserved.

It’s like saying you should seek medical advice from a drug store cashier.

And what about this advice is specific to DrDeth who, after all, claimed to be knowledgeable about these things? Who else, then, can you trust to give valid advice about scams?

Of course we are (mostly) not lawyers here. That is why legal (and medical) questions are usually shunted off to IMHO. If anything, DrDeth’s offense was offering an opinion in a FQ thread, and maybe that was moddable. Or perhaps the thread should have been moved to IMHO.

Does DrDeth in fact have a history of giving bad advice? In his earlier linked incident, he had given essentially the same advice: Go to the bank and get their advice. In the current case, he did the same. How can that have been bad advice in either incident? Does DrDeth have a history of giving demonstrably bad advice in other cases?


When I call my doctor for medical advice, I generally get connected to a receptionist first, who of course can’t answer my medical questions. Do you suggest that I should therefore not call my doctor’s office for medical advice? I would expect that the receptionist would set me up with an appointment, or make a note of my questions to give to the doctor.

If I go to the drug store with questions about my meds, I would expect to talk to a cashier or clerk first. I would expect said cashier or clerk to call out the pharmacist to discuss with me.

And if I have a check of questionable authenticity, where should I go to ask about it, if not a bank? If the teller can’t handle it, I expect the teller to call the branch manager. I expect either the teller or the manager to know what can or can’t be done. If the bank can verify the check somehow, or if they can’t, I expect the teller or manager to be able to tell me that. What I DON’T expect is to be violently arrested just for asking.

(And by the way, does anybody here remember that banks generally put a hold on large deposited checks? Nobody is going to deposit a large check and then be able to take the cash out and run, until the bank gets the money. Banks take better care of themselves than that. Everybody here knows that.)

Now compare with another current thread, in which OP got a call from someone claiming to be his bank, asking for his Social Security Number, whereupon OP hung up on the caller. Numerous posters responded, agreeing that was the right thing to do. Sensible though that may be, have they all committed a moddable offense now? One poster offered additional advice, regarding how the OP should have verified the bank’s correct phone number before he called them to question it. (All of which OP said he did.) Did that poster commit a moddable offense?

As for THIS thread, it seems to me THIS OP’s original question is still in question: “So we can’t comment on scams now?” Unless the mods can really clarify this advice and make some sense of it, it does look like we can’t discuss scams on this Board any more.

It’s very simple. The bank teller who DrDeth thinks you should talk to can tell you exactly one thing: whether the check is valid or not. However, if I steal a check out of your checkbook, fill it out with DrDeth’s information, and say it is for $10,000, then when DrDeth takes the check to the bank, he will be told that yes, this check is indeed valid. He will then be able to deposit it, no problem.

You would then presumably notice the issue and report the theft of your check. The $10,000 would then be deducted from DrDeth’s account. If he no longer had that money in that account, he’d be screwed. And you’d be getting investigated for cashing a stolen check.

There is no question that it’s a real check that came from a real person or business so there is no question that a bank teller will say all is well. The problem is that the check was clearly issued fraudulently, because nobody hires a random person without ever talking to them first and lets them know they were hired by sending them thousands of dollars.

I have no idea how you would read it this way.

Sure, in the present case, it seems pretty clear that the check in question is a scam. I don’t think anyone on this Board is questioning that. But what, then, is one to do if one receives such a questionable check?

Taking the matter up with some suitable authority must certainly be the best, and really only reasonable, advice. And who would be such a suitable authority? I would certainly think my bank would be the first reasonable place to bring up a question like that. And yes, I would expect someone at the bank to know the best way to proceed from there.

Well, okay. Who would YOU suggest I talk to about it? Or what would you suggest I do? Certainly not take it up on a public-ish message board.

Oh wait. By my interpretation, you had best not answer those questions.

If you receive an unsolicited check from Person X or Business Y, asking the bank “is this a real check?” does not address the actual issue at play here, because the check being a real check isn’t the question; therefore the bank isn’t a “suitable authority” any more than your grandmother would be. You’d best ask Person X or Business Y whether they intended to send you a check or not, and if not, do not deposit it because as soon as it leaves their account they will notice and report the theft, canceling the check.

Talk to the supposed issuer of the check.

Your interpretation is ludicrous so I have no issue answering these questions.

And how does that advice apply to the case in question in the linked thread? It doesn’t appear to be a stolen check. It appears to be a popular kind of scam. If the OP of that thread calls the people who are “offering” him a job and asks if they sent him that check, they will say “Yes of course we sent you that check.”

(BTW, I’m turning in now. Further discussion, if any, tomorrow. Bye.)

No, they can offer an informed opinion. DrDeth did NOT tell the OP to ask if the check was valid or not and did NOT tell the OP to just deposit the check and see what happens.
DrDeth said:

You could take the check to your bank, tell them the story, and ask what to do.
and was modded for that suggestion.

DrDeth said the best place to get advice on a/this banking question is the bank. Chronos said that it’s a scam while modding DrDeth.
The way I read that is that Chronos is under the impression that the people working at the bank either won’t be allowed to, or won’t be smart enough to, recognize the hallmarks of a scam and advise the OP on how to handle the situation or take some steps of their own to verify if the check maker actually made the check
In other words, Chronos has made himself the authority on such situations and posters that disagree with his suggestions will be modded for it.

I’m not even sure how to put it into words because, at least how I’m interpreting it, going to the actual authority on the subject (the bank) is such terrible advice it’s worthy of a warning, doesn’t make any sense to me.

It’s like asking answering a medical question with ‘you should really ask your doctor about that’ and getting modded because “the OP clearly has [some condition] and the doctor will never figure that out, and you’re wrong to suggest they ask a doctor”.

On the other hand, maybe I misinterpreting all this, since Chronos also said “We don’t trust you to give sound advice on such matters”, which could imply that this isn’t a case of suggesting someone talk to the bank when they have a banking question, but rather that DrDeth essentially broke a personal topic ban.

Yes, “everybody knows that”. Including @DrDeth . Which is why a lot of people end up getting burned when they discover it isn’t true. When you bring in a check like this, the bank will tell you that it’s cleared, and you can go ahead and spend the money. And then, when the check in fact does not clear, the bank will hold you accountable for the money. That’s what makes @DrDeth 's advice dangerous.

Unless you’re a sock of @DrDeth , “we” can discuss scams. Again, the directive in question was specifically to him, not to any other poster.

Oh, and I have not made myself an authority on this matter. This was discussed extensively by all of the moderators.

During the recession, my area was hit hard and I was getting way too many checks that bounced. So I stopped accepting checks. At first people were pissed off and I lost some business (and bounced checks) to my competitors, but eventually they stopped taking checks as well.

I’m surprised checks are still a thing. It’s a piece of paper with no intrinsic value. Why don’t we do away with them?

And according to the mod note, “We say this after consulting with a veteran bank executive.”

I’m not sure why there is any pushback on this mod action. Yes, it should have been made clearer that the note was addressed to DrDeth specifically, but anyone with a passing familiarity with the situation could have easily figured that out from context.

The facts seem pretty simple. DrDeth had been admonished in the past for giving questionable banking advice related to probable scams. Despite this, he gave the same advice again in another thread. The mods then asked for an expert opinion and that person concurred that the advice was bad. The mods then issued a warning to DrDeth telling him to stop giving advice related to scams because his advice was unsound.

And it’s relevant that last time this scam came up, dedeth’s advise was to deposit the check, and he was mod-noted and told not to give similar advice.

As the warning states, the wording of that mod note was imperfect. But he came back and gave almost the same advice he’d been mod-noted for.

This warning is partly for consistently giving bad advice re scams, (and the moderator team actually reached out to a veteran banker, as the warning mentions) but also for disobeying prior moderation instructions.