Popular Phone & Email Scams
Information you need to protect yourself from being a victim of the latest scam tactics:
- Advance fee scams – Don't fall for claims that you have won a lottery, prize, or can invest in a great opportunity, if you have to pay a small fee in advance.
- Chain letters – These letters promise to help you get rich quickly if you participate and forward the letter on to your friends and family.
- Charity scams – Scammers take advantage on your willingness to help people in need and charitable causes. They may collect your donation and keep it for themselves instead of using it to help those in need. Know your charities and only give locally. Get to know a charity's politics before contributing. Example: The Clinton Foundation collected millions for the earth quake victoms in Haiti but built a textile plant across the island to wealthy contributors.
- Coupon scams – Coupons can be a helpful way to save money on your purchases. But beware of illegitimate offers. Often you must download something that will install on your computer before receiving the benefit. The download installs adware and spyware on your computer.
- Dating scams – Scammers may create fake profiles on online dating sites and express interest in you, just so he or she can convince you to send them money.
- Debt relief scams – Some scammers hope that you are as eager to get rid of your debt as they are to scam you out of your money. Know the warning signs so you won't be their next victim.
- Free security scans – Don't be tricked by messages on your computer screen that claim that your machine is already infected with a virus. The realistic, but phony, security alerts exploit your fear of online viruses and security threats. Do not click on the suspicious dialog box; turn-off computer immediately.
- Government grant scams – Despite ads that say you qualify for a government grant, these are often scams. Be wary of responding to offers, email, or claims that use government agency names.
- Health product scams – Be wary of trusting all claims. Take time to get the facts about a product first.
- International financial scams – A variety of scams offer entries into foreign lotteries or international investment opportunities.
- IRS-related scams – Be careful with email that is supposedly from the IRS. Scammers try to gain access to your financial information in order to steal your identity and assets. Never give your Social Security number to anyone on the phone. The IRS already knows your SS and should not need you to repete it.
- Job scams – Never pay money or supply your credit card number to a company to apply for a job. Some scammers make big promises with work at home opportunities, but these may require you to engage in illegal activities. With so many out of work these days, this is a popular why to prey on the unemployed.
- Jury duty scams – Calls pretending to be a court official who then threatens a warrant has been issued for your arrest because you failed to show up for jury duty. Jury duty requests always come by mail with a local phone number to call.
- Phantom debt scams – Beware of letters and calls, supposedly from "debt collectors" or "court officials". These scammers make threatening claims requiring you to pay money that you don't owe.
- Pyramid schemes – These investments offer big profits, but really aren't based on revenue from selling products. Instead, they depend on the recruitment of more investors.
- Scams that use the names of the FBI or CIA – Avoid falling victim to email schemes involving unsolicited email supposedly sent by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and/or Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). The email appears to be sent from email addresses such as email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, and firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Service members or veteran scams – Scammers target bogus offers of government resources or financial services to trick active duty military personnel and veterans out of their money.
- Smishing, vishing, and phishing – All three of these scams rely on you replying to an email, phone call or text with personal information, such as your bank account or credit card numbers.
- Subpoena scams – Scammers send bogus email, supposedly from a U.S. District Court, stating that you have to come to court. These messages are fake and may contain links that are harmful to your computer.
- Text message spam – Not only can text message spam be annoying and cost you money on your mobile phone bill, but the messages are often for scams.
For more info use these links to GOV sites:
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