What’s worse than losing money to a scammer? Losing more money to another scammer claiming to help you recover from the first one.

Yep; this really happens. It works like this: Con artists contact you because you’re on their lists of people who lost money to scams. For a “small fee” or “donation” upfront, they promise to recover the money you lost from a prize scheme, bogus product offer, or some other scam. 

Sometimes, they try to get you to contact them by putting their offers of “help” in the comments section of blog posts or online articles about scams. Some crooks claim to be from a government agency to appear trustworthy. Others pretend to be actual victims who got (supposed) help from some (fake) agency or company.

But it’s all just a scam, too — another way for a scammer to profit from your loss. They’re after your money, and if you share your payment information, they’ve got it.

Here’s how you can avoid these recovery scams:

  1. Don’t pay upfront for a promise. Someone might ask you to pay in advance for things – like help with recovering from a scam. Consider it a no-go if they ask you for money before they provide any “help”.
  2. Don’t send money or give out personal information in response to an unexpected text, phone call, or email.  
  3. Do online searches. Type the name or contact information into your favorite search engine with the term “complaint” or “scam.”
  4. Sign up for the FTC’s free scam alerts at ftc.gov/scams for the latest tips and advice about scams.

And if you find yourself scammed after being scammed, file a complaint with the FTC.