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How to Spot Common Scams

Scams today can come in many forms. Below are some common scams, along with some tips to help prevent you from becoming a victim.

Description: You receive a letter with a large-dollar check that you are asked to deposit into your personal checking account; however, you need to immediately wire a portion of the funds to cover various taxes and administrative fees.

Tips: Legitimate lotteries pay taxes directly to the government rather than being reimbursed from winners' proceeds. It is against U.S. law to play a foreign lottery by mail or by telephone.

Description: A participant on an online dating site or chat room begins communicating with you via instant messaging. After some time goes by and they gain your trust, they mention some personal financial difficulties. They want to have the funds sent to you because they are out of the country and can't access their bank account from where they are. They then will have you wire the funds to them.

Tips: If you use an online dating site or chat rooms, be careful of individuals you've just met who want to leave the site and move to personal email or instant messaging communication. Be especially careful if the talk turns to a financial nature that requires your help. Never give personal or financial information such as account numbers, online credentials and credit card numbers.

Description: You apply for a job online. The employer sends a check that includes not only your salary, but funds to purchase the supplies you'll need to complete the work. The employer asks you to deposit the check and wire a portion of the first check to cover the supplies.

Tips: Offers to perform minimal work from home for large sums of money are typically scams. No legitimate company sends salary in advance and asks that a portion be wired or sent by any other means. Do not accept work at home opportunities that involve processing checks or electronic payments through your personal account.

Description: You apply for a position to be a mystery shopper. You receive a package containing instructions and evaluation forms for your first assignment. You also receive a check that includes your salary for the assignment as well as the amount you will use in your mystery shopping. You are instructed to deposit the check to your personal account and withdraw cash to take to a money transfer service at a local retail store. You will wire the money so that you can evaluate the customer service.

Tips: You would not be instructed to wire money as part of a legitimate mystery shopper assignment. No legitimate company sends its shoppers money in advance and asks them to return a portion via wire transfer or any other means.

Description: You are selling an item via an online auction site. The purchaser mails a check for more than the final sales amount. The purchaser explains this was a mistake and to save time they ask you to go ahead and deposit the full amount but wire them the difference.

Tips: If you sell an item online, never accept a check for more than the purchase amount.

Description: You get a call from someone claiming to be your grandchild. They tell you they are not at home and have either gotten into a car accident or gotten into trouble with the law and ask you not to tell their parents. They then ask that you wire them money to cover the cost of the dilemma they are in.

Tips: After getting off the phone, contact their parents. Typically the grandchild is home and not in any type of trouble.

Personal Fraud Awareness, Prevention and Reporting Resources

Find out about agencies that provide fraud awareness, prevention tips and resources as well as fraud and identity theft reporting tools. Learn More

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