most common scams

The following scams are estimated to account for over 65 percent of fraud complaints so protect yourself by becoming familiar with the signs.

1) Government Impersonation
The scammer pretends to be from the IRS, Social Security Administration or Medicare (and now, even the FTC). They may say you have unpaid taxes and threaten arrest if you don’t pay up immediately, and demand payment with a prepaid debit card, cash or wire transfer. These payment methods indicate this is a scam. They may use scare tactics, saying you won’t collect your Social Security benefits.

2) Sweepstakes and Lottery Scams

With this one, you’ll be called and told you’ve won a prize (like Publishers Clearing House, a name you know), and in order to collect it, you’ll have to pay the processing fees or taxes up front.

3) Robocalls and Phone Scams
One common robocall is the “Can you hear me?” call. When you say yes, the scammer records your voice and hangs up. They then have your voice signature to authorize unwanted charges on items like stolen credit cards. With artificial intelligence, this type of scam is likely to become even more prevalent.

4) Tech Support Scams
A message may pop up on your computer saying your device is damaged and needs fixing. If you call the (phony)support number, the scammer may request access to your computer or demand a fee to repair it. Remember, legitimate tech support people don’t proactively seek you out to fix your computer.

5) The Grandparent Scam
In this scam, the perpetrator poses as a grandchild and asks for money to solve an urgent financial problem (such as needing bail or a car repair). With artificial intelligence, scammers may even be able to mimic your grandchild’s voice. The scammer may even show up at your home, posing as a messenger to pick up the money.

6) The Romance Scam
These scammers create fake profiles on dating sites and social media. They may ask for money to come visit you or to help with a medical emergency.

And yet another insidious scam has started to make the rounds. In this one, an “agent” from the FTC calls and informs you that one of your accounts has been hacked, and asks you to help catch the scammer by buying gift cards—the numbers of which you must provide to this caller—which they will then purportedly use to trap the con artist.  In the end, the “agent” scammer takes the gift card numbers and his accomplices cash out the cards almost immediately. So please beware of anyone who (1) initiates a call or text to you, even if their phone number appears legitimate; (2) tells you not to discuss this with anyone or it could ruin the plan; and/or (3) tells you to buy gift cards with your money. Just hang up the phone! The FTC is not enlisting individuals to help them find scammers—nor is any other government agency. 

It’s remarkably easy to fall prey to one of the above scams or the many others that keep popping up so be skeptical and hang up the phone if you suspect foul play. Better yet, don’t pick up a call if you don’t recognize the phone number. And delete suspicious emails! But if you have been victimized, call your local police, inform your bank, and report it to the FTC online at:

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