How to spot a scam
Today, there's no shortage of new ways scammers try to steal your money. They pressure you to “act fast” and may ask you to send money urgently. You can protect yourself from fraud by knowing their tactics.
Common scams and techniques
- Gift Card Scam: You receive a call from a scammer and are told to purchase gift cards to fulfill an urgent request to send money right away. Once the gift cards are purchased, they ask you to read the number and PIN on the back of the card or ask you to send a photo of the card and this information. Once you’ve done that, the scammer and your money are gone.
- IRS Imposter Scam: You receive a call or email from a scammer claiming to be from the government demanding immediate payment for back taxes.
- Lottery/Sweepstakes/Inheritance Scam: You are told you won a lottery, contest, inheritance or prize and are asked to pay money upfront to receive the funds.
- Tech Support Scam: You receive a call that your computer needs repair and to send money for service.
- Person In Need Scam: You receive a call that a friend or relative needs money to help with an emergency – like paying a hospital bill, getting out of jail, or leaving a foreign country – sometimes this is called the Grandparent Scam.
- Phishing: You receive an email that looks legitimate asking you to send money or provide personal information – the request may have an urgent tone.
Here's how to protect yourself
- Never send money to someone you don’t know – if something doesn't seem right, you can always hang up, stop communicating, or walk away.
- Never provide personal information in response to an unsolicited request, either over the phone or online – scammers may ask for confidential information such as passwords, Social Security number, debit card information, or bank account number.
- If you’ve received a secure access code (SAC) to gain entry to an account, never share it with anyone.
- Don't respond to suspicious emails, automated calls, or text messages.
- Verify the request by calling the organization on their publicly-posted phone number and speaking with the person asking for the information.
- Consult with someone you trust to help assess the legitimacy of the communication.