News & Announcements

Fraud and Scams

Report a scam to the Federal Trade Commission - 1-877-382-4357 or ftc.gov/complaints

ONLINE DATING SCAMS

Here is how they work:

You meet someone special on a dating website. Soon he wants to move off the dating site to email or phone calls. He tells you he loves you, but he lives far away--maybe for business, or because he is in the military.

Then he asks for money. He might say it is for a plane ticket to visit you. Or emergency surgery. Or something else urgent.

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.

Here is what you can do:
Stop. Do not send money. Never wire money, put money on a prepaid debit card, or send cash to an online love interest. You will not get it back.

GRANDKID SCAM

Here is how they work:
You get a call: "Grandma, I need money for bail." Or money for a medical bill. Or some other kind of trouble. The caller says it is urgent and tells you to keep it a secret.

But is the caller who you think it is? Scammers are good at pretending to be someone they are not. They can be convincing: sometimes using information from social networking sites, or hacking into your loved one's email account, to make it seem more real. And they will pressure you to send money before you have time to think.

Here is what you can do:
Stop. Check it out. Look up your grandkid's phone number yourself, or call another family member.

IMPOSTER (Lottery) SCAMS

Here is how they work:
You get a call or an email. It might say you have just won a grand prize or a large sum of money. It might seem to come from a government official from the U.S. or a different country. Maybe it seems to be from someone you know-your grandchild, a relative or a friend. Or maybe it is from someone you feel like you know, but you have not met in person-say, a person you met online who you have been writing to.

Whatever the story, the request is the same: wire money to pay taxes or fees, or to help someone you care about.

But is the person who you think it is? Is there an emergency or a prize? Judging by the complaints to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the answer is no. The person calling you is pretending to be someone else.

Here is what you can do:
Stop. Check it out-before you wire money to anyone. Call the person, the government agency, or someone else you trust. Get the real story. Then decide what to do. No government agency will ever ask you to wire money.

IRS IMPOSTER SCAMS

Here is how they work:
You get a call from someone who says she is from the IRS. She says that you owe back taxes. She threatens to sue you, arrest, or deport you, or revoke your license if you do not pay right away. She tells you to put money on a prepaid debit card and give her the card numbers.

The caller may know Social Security number. And your caller ID might show a Washington, DC area code. But is it really the IRS calling?

NO. The real IRS will not ask you to pay with prepaid debit cards or wire transfers. They also will not ask for a credit card over the phone. And when the IRS first contacts you about unpaid taxes, they do it by mail, not by phone. And caller IDs can be faked.

Here is what you can do:
Stop. Do not wire money or pay with a prepaid debit card. Once you send it, the money Is gone. If you have tax questions, go to irs.gov or call the IRS at 800-829-1040.

CHARITY FRAUD

Here is how it works:
Someone contacts you asking for a donation to their charity. It sounds like a group you have heard of, it seems real, and you want to help.

How can you tell what charity is legitimate and what is a scam? Scammers want your money quickly. Charity scammers often pressure you to donate right away. They might ask for cash, and might even offer to send a courier or ask you to wire money. Scammers often refuse to send you information about the charity, give you details, or tell you how the money will be used. They might even thank you for a pledge you do not remember making.

Here is what you can do:
Take your time. Tell callers to send you information by mail. For requests you get in the mail, do your research. Is it a real group? What percentage of your donation goes to the charity? Is your donation tax-deductible? How do they want you to pay?  Rule out anyone who asks you to send cash or wire money. Chances are, that is a scam.

EMPLOYMENT SCAMS

Here is how it works:
Someone contacts you and offers you a job, such as “work from home” and “earn thousands of dollars a month, no experience needed.”  All the victim needs to do is fill out the employment form with all their personal information and send the new employer an initial job finder’s fee.

Here is what you can do:

Stop. Do not wire money or pay with a prepaid debit card. Once you send it, the money Is gone.

CAR WRAP SCAMS

Here is how it works:
Have you seen ads promising easy money if you shrink-wrap your car – with ads from bonds like Monster Energy, Red Bull, Gatorade, or Pepsi? The company behind the ads says all you must do is deposit a check, use part of it to pay a specified shrink-wrap vendor, and drive around like you normally would. 

Here is what you can do:
Do not jump on the bandwagon.  It is only easy money for the scammer who placed the ads.  The check he sent you is counterfeit and against the law to cash or deposit. 

HEALTH CARE SCAMS

Here is how it works:
You see an ad on TV, telling you about a new law that requires you to get a new health care card. Maybe you get a call offering you big discounts on health insurance. Or maybe someone says they are from the government, and need your Medicare number to issue you a new card.

Scammers follow the headlines. When it is Medicare open season, or when health care is in the news, they go to work with a new script. Their goal? To get your Social Security number, financial information, or insurance number.

So, take a minute to think before you talk: Do you really have to get a new health care card? Is that discounted insurance a good deal? Is that “government official" really from the government? The answer to all three is almost always: No

Here is what you can do:
Stop. Check it out. Before you share your information, call Medicare (1-800-MEDICARE), do some research, and check with someone you trust. What is the real story!