Imposters pretend to be someone you trust, like a government official, a family member, a charity, or a company you do business with. They seem convincing, and pressure you to send money before you have time to think.
- Don’t send money or give out personal information in response to an unexpected request — whether it comes as a text, a phone call, or an email.
- Scammers can be convincing and find ways to make their story seem real. They sometimes use information from social networking sites to convince you they know about you. They might hack into a loved one’s email account to seem like it’s really the person you know reaching out.
- Is a distressed friend or love interest in touch? Check it out. Look up that person’s phone number yourself and check in. Call another family member to see what they know. Is there a real emergency?
- Does it seem to be the IRS calling? Hang up. The IRS will never contact you initially by phone. The real IRS won’t ask you to pay with prepaid debit cards, iTunes cards, or wire transfers. They also won’t ask for a credit card over the phone. If you have tax questions, visit IRS.gov or call the IRS at 1-800-829-1040.
- Does a caller say you’ve been selected to get a grant or other money from the government? Even if you’ve recently completed the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), a real government agency won’t ask you to pay a processing fee related to FAFSA or for a grant that you have already been awarded.
- Does the caller say your computer has a virus and they can help? Hang up. Never give control of your computer or your credit card information to someone who calls you out of the blue.
- Is your online romantic interest asking for cash? Don’t wire money or give out account information. Scammers, both male and female, make fake dating profiles, sometimes using photos of other people — even stolen pictures of real military personnel. They build relationships — some even fake wedding plans — before they disappear with your money.