Scammers try new methods to trick you all the time. But if you know the signs to look for, you may avoid becoming a victim.
5 SIGNS OF A SCAM
If you spot any of these tactics, stop and walk away. You're probably being scammed.
- They contacted you
When you contact a business, you know who's on the other end of the line. But when someone contacts you first, you can't be certain they're telling the truth. You don't know if they are whom they say they are. And remember, email addresses and caller ID information can be faked.
- They dangle bait—usually money
Let's face it: People simply don't give away large sums of money easily. If someone dangles bait in front of you—a big prize, a shopping spree, an easy loan — for nothing, they're probably lying.
- They want your personal information
Anytime anyone asks for your personal information — bank accounts, social security number, etc. — you should be on alert. Don't give it away quickly or easily, especially to someone you don't know. You may become a victim of identity theft.
- You have to pay them first
If someone offers you a prize, debt relief, or employment — but first you have to pay an upfront fee to get it —you're probably being scammed.
- You have to wire money or send gift cards
If you're about to wire money or send gift cards to someone in order to receive a prize, or pay off a debt collector that contacts you ... STOP! This may be a scammer trying to take your money.
If you answer the phone and hear a recorded message instead of a live person, it's a robocall. We’ve seen a significant increase in the number of illegal robocalls because internet-powered phone systems have made it cheap and easy for scammers to make illegal calls from anywhere in the world, and to hide from law enforcement by displaying fake caller ID information. Learn more about robocall fraud.
SOCIAL SECURITY SCAMS
If you get a call that looks like it’s from the Social Security Administration (SSA), think twice. Scammers are spoofing SSA’s 1-800 customer service number to try to get your personal information.
What can you do if you get one of these calls? Hang up. SSA will not threaten you. Real SSA employees will never threaten you to get personal information. They also won’t promise to increase your benefits in exchange for information. If they do, it’s a scam. If you have any doubt, hang up and call SSA directly. Call 1-800-772-1213 or report it to SSA’s Office of Inspector General at 1-800-269-0271 or visit SSA's webiste. You can also report these calls to the FTC.
FILE A CONSUMER COMPLAINT
Filing a consumer complaint with the Office of the Attorney General is easy. But you should understand the process first. Here's what you need to know to file a consumer complaint.