Telephone scammers try to steal your money or personal information. Scams may come through phone calls from real people, robocalls, or text messages. Callers often make false promises, such as opportunities to buy products, invest your money, or receive free product trials. They may also offer you money through free grants and lotteries. Some scammers may call with threats of jail or lawsuits if you don’t pay them.
It's important to report phone scams to federal agencies. They can’t investigate individual cases. But your report can help them collect evidence for lawsuits against scammers.
Remember these tips to avoid being a victim of a telephone scam:
Register your phone number with the National Do Not Call Registry. You may register online or by calling 1-888-382-1222. If you still receive telemarketing calls after registering, there’s a good chance that the calls are scams.
Be wary of callers claiming that you’ve won a prize or vacation package.
Don’t give in to pressure to take immediate action.
Don’t say anything if a caller starts the call asking, “Can you hear me?” This is a common tactic for scammers to record you saying “yes.” Scammers record your “yes” response and use it as proof that you agreed to a purchase or credit card charge.
Don’t provide your credit card number, bank account information, or other personal information to a caller.
Don’t send money if a caller tells you to wire money or pay with a prepaid debit card.
Banking scams involve attempts to access your bank account. Use this information to recognize, report, and protect yourself from them. The most common banking scams include:
Overpayment scams - A scam artist sends you a counterfeit check. They tell you to deposit it in your bank account and wire part of the money back to them. Since the check was fake, you’ll have to pay your bank the amount of the check, plus you’ll lose any money you wired.
Unsolicited check fraud - A scammer sends you a check for no reason. If you cash it, you may be authorizing the purchase of items or signing up for a loan you didn’t ask for.
Automatic withdrawals - A scam company sets up automatic debits from your bank account to qualify for a free trial or to collect a prize.
Phishing - You receive an email message that asks you to verify your bank account or debit card number.
Remember these tips to avoid being a victim of a banking scam:
Be suspicious if you are told to wire a portion of funds from a check you received back to a company.
Be wary of lotteries or free trials that ask for your bank account number.
Verify the authenticity of a cashier’s check with the bank that it is drawn on before depositing it.
When verifying a check or the issuer, use contact information on a bank’s website.
Don’t trust the appearance of checks or money orders. Scammers can make them look legitimate and official.
Don’t deposit checks or money orders from strangers or companies you don’t have a relationship with.
Don’t wire money to people or companies you don’t know.
Don’t give your bank account number to someone who calls you, even for verification purposes.
Don’t click on links in an email to verify your bank account.
Don’t accept a check that includes an overpayment.
Scammers change their methods frequently. Current coronavirus scams include:
Charity scams - Fake charities pop up during disasters. And scammers can also claim to be from real charities. Learn how to research charity claims and protect your money.
Checks from the government - Scammers say they’re from the IRS or another government agency and ask for your personal information or try to charge you fake fees for getting your stimulus check or offer you a way to get the money early.
FDIC and banking - People pretend to call from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) or your bank and say your bank account or your ability to get cash are in danger and ask for your personal information.
Grandparent and military service member scams - A scammer pretends to be a grandchild or a military service member who’s sick or in trouble because of the coronavirus. They contact you asking to wire them money to pay for fake medical or travel expenses.