Examples of Common Phone Scams
By: Federal Trade Commission
Any scam can happen over the phone. But here are some common angles phone scammers like to use:
A scammer pretends to be someone you trust—a government agency like the Social Security Administration or the IRS, a family member, a love interest, or someone claiming there’s a problem with your computer. The scammer can even have a fake name or number show up on your caller ID to convince you. Learn more at ftc.gov/imposters.
Debt Relief and Credit Repair Scams
Scammers will offer to lower your credit card interest rates, fix your credit, or get your student loans forgiven if you pay their company a fee first. But you could end up losing your money and ruining your credit. Learn more at ftc.gov/credit.
Business and Investment Scams
Callers might promise to help you start your own business and give you business coaching, or guarantee big profits from an investment. Don’t take their word for it. Learn about the FTC’s Business Opportunity Rule, and check out investment opportunities with your state securities regulator. Learn more at ftc.gov.
Scammers like to pose as charities. Scams requesting donations for disaster relief efforts are especially common on the phone. Always check out a charity before you give, and don’t feel pressured to give immediately over the phone before you do. Learn more to ftc.gov/charity.
Extended Car Warranties
Scammers find out what kind of car you drive and when you bought it so they can urge you to buy overpriced—worthless—service contracts. Learn more at ftc.gov/cars.
A caller might promise a free trial but then sign you up for products—sometimes lots of products—that you’re billed for every month until you cancel. Learn more of ftc.gov/freetrials.
Loan scams include advance. Fee. Loan scams, where scammers target people with a poor credit history and guarantee loans or credit cards for an up-front fee. Legitimate lenders don’t make guarantees like that, especially if you have bad credit, no credit or a bankruptcy. Learn more at ftc.gov/credit.
Prize and Lottery Scams
In a typical prize scam, the caller will say you’ve won a prize, but then say you need to pay a registration or shipping fee to get it. But after you pay, you find out there is no prize. Learn more at ftc.gov/prizescams.
Travel Scams and Timeshare Scams
Scammers promise free or low cost vacations that can end up costing you a lot in hidden costs. And sometimes, after you pay, you find out there is no vacation. In timeshare resale scams, scammers lie and tell you they’ll sell your timeshare—and may even have a buyer lined up—if you pay them first. Learn more at ftc.gov/travel.
Federal Trade Commission | consumer.gov | September 2018