Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance (TDCI)
Nashville, TN – The offer sounds simple, lucrative, and fun: Get paid to advertise a well-known company or product just by adding a decal to your vehicle. Unfortunately, consumers are the ones being left in the dust by scammers who eventually drive away with the profits.
The auto decal scam targets consumers who are contacted by an individual posing as an advertising or promotional company looking for people interested in earning weekly income of $500.00-$700.00 by simply placing an advertisement decal or “wrap” on their vehicle.
If the consumer agrees, they’ll receive a check, often instructing the consumer to keep a portion of the money and send the rest to be paid to the wrap or decal installer via bank or wire transfer or reloadable gift cards.
After sending money to the “installer”, no one ever shows up to install the wrap on the vehicle. Meanwhile, the check sent on behalf of the advertising company turns out to be fraudulent, leaving the consumer on the hook.
Banks must make funds from deposited checks available within days, but it may take weeks to uncover a fake check. Unfortunately for the scammers’ victims, it’s the consumer (not the scammer) who is ultimately held accountable for the entire amount of the fake check.
“A phony check scam is a tried and true scheme, and scammers are constantly crafting new variations of the scam to take advantage of hardworking Tennesseans,” said TDCI Commissioner Julie Mix McPeak. “We’re encouraging consumers to keep on the lookout for suspicious offers that promise fast, easy money. Always remember: If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.”
TDCI’s Division of Consumer Affairs encourages consumers to review this helpful list of tips compiled by the American Bankers Association that could prevent you from falling victim to a car decal scam or other fake check or money order scams:
- Never fall for a promise of “easy money.” The promise of easy money can end up costing you. Scammers offer a decal advertisement, work-from-home job, or a prize you have to pay for from a well-known company. If you call the company, though, they will likely tell you they don’t pay individuals to promote their products—only employees.
- Even if a check “clears”, you may not be in the clear. Banks must make deposited funds available quickly. Just because you can withdraw the funds doesn’t mean the check has cleared—even if it’s a cashier’s check or money order. If you have questions about whether a check is legitimate, talk with your banker. Be sure to explain the check’s source, the reason it was sent to you, and whether you are being asked to wire or send money back.
- Don’t be fooled by official-looking checks. Scammers have access to sophisticated technology that allows them to create counterfeit checks that have the appearance of legitimate checks. Scammers can replicate cashier checks and money orders so that they appear to be from legitimate business accounts.
- Never send money to someone you don’t know. Bank transfers, wire transfers, and reloadable gift cards are all quick ways for scammer to take off with your money. If a company is looking to employee you, request that they make the payment for installation or equipment.
- If you think you’ve been the victim of fraud, speak up. A stronger Tennessee starts with you. If you think you’ve been the victim of fraud or a scam, tell someone. Talk with bank staff if you suspect a fake check. Report scams or fraud to the Federal Trade Commission, Better Business Bureau, and TDCI to ensure others don’t fall victim to the same tactics.
For more resources on being a savvy consumer or to report a scam, visit tn.gov/consumer.