Some scam artists attempt to pass off something that looks like a Treasury check – such as a tax return check – when paying for something being sold through the classifieds or at a yard sale. They offer to sign the check over to you, just like any other check can be signed over. Some such checks are legitimate, but if you have doubts, you can check the authenticity of your Treasury check before closing the deal.
Hold your Treasury check up to a light source and examine the front and back. You should see a watermark that reads "U.S. Treasury." You might have a counterfeit if you see the watermark without holding it in the light or if you see no watermark at all.
Turn the check over and hold a magnifying glass over the endorsement line. All Treasury checks have microprinting that is visible through magnification. If the microprinting reads "USAUSAUSA," your check is authentic.
Hold a black light over the front of the check. All authentic Treasury checks have four lines of glowing ultraviolet printing that reads "FMS," which stands for Financial Management Service. These lines will appear between two seals. If the ultraviolet print is missing or disturbed, your check may be counterfeit.
Test to see if there is bleeding ink by applying moisture to the U.S. Treasury seal to the right of the Statue of Liberty on each check. The ink should turn reddish on legitimate checks when moisture is applied to the black security ink.
Searching the Treasury Check Information System
Visit the Treasury Check Verification Application website by going to tcva.fms.treasury.gov. Click the "Check Verification" link.
Enter your Treasury check number in the box labeled "Check No." This information can be found in the upper right hand corner of your Treasury check.
Enter the amount the check is issued for in the box labeled "Check Amount." This can be found on the middle right hand side of the Treasury check. Include a decimal point if the check does not state a whole dollar amount.
Click the "Verify" button. The issue data for your Treasury check will appear on the screen.
Read More: What Do I Do With Expired Treasury Checks?
If you do not have access to a computer or the materials used for visual verification, you can take your Treasury check to your local bank for verification.
If the online application determines there is no issue record, this does not prove the check is invalid. Treasury checks become invalid after one year; if the check is older than 12 months, it cannot be verified by this method. If you suspect your Treasury check is counterfeit, please contact law enforcement officials. You can also try reporting fraud at consumerfraudreporting.org.