Crooks defraud millions of people every year. Their schemes often combine new technology with lies to get people to send money or give up personal information.
- If someone calls asking for money or personal information, hang up. It’s easy to fake Caller ID, so don’t use it to decide whether a call is real.
- Is it a recorded sales pitch? Robocalls like that are illegal. Hang up. Don’t press a number to speak to a person or be taken off the list. That could just lead to more calls.
- Before you give up your money or personal information, stop and check it out. Type a company or product name into your favorite search engine with words like “review,” “complaint” or “scam.” Search for a phrase that describes your situation, like “IRS call.” Search for phone numbers to see if other people have reported them as scams.
- Talk to someone you trust. Con artists want you to make decisions in a hurry, so slow down. Tell a friend – before you give up your money or personal information.
- If you decide to pay someone, consider how you pay. Credit cards have fraud protection built in, but some payment methods don’t. Wiring money through services like Western Union or MoneyGram is risky. It’s nearly impossible to get your money back. That’s also true for iTunes cards and reloadable cards like MoneyPak, Reloadit, or Vanilla. Once you share the number on the card, the money is gone. Remember that the government and honest companies won’t insist that you use these payment methods.
- Never deposit a check and wire money back. That’s a big sign of a scam. Banks have only a few days to make funds from deposited checks available. But it can take weeks to uncover a fake check. If the check you deposited turns out to be fake, you have to repay the bank the full amount.
- Sign up for the FTC’s free scam alerts and get the latest tips and advice about scams. And report scams to the FTC.