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Imposter Scams

By: Federal Trade Commission

Imposter Scams

Paying with a gift card or wiring money is like sending cash. Do not send money to people you do not know.

  • Do not give out your personal information to people you do not know.
  • Do not give access to your computer to people you do not know.

How do I spot an imposters scam?

Most imposter scams look like this:

  • Someone asks you to put money on a gift card or to wire money.

A scammer might use different ways to convince you to send money. The scammer might say:

  • You have a problem with your computer and you have to pay to fix it.
  • You owe taxes to the IRS.
  • You won a prize, or inherited money, but you have to pay fees first.
  • You won the lottery, but you have to pay some taxes first.
  • A friend or family member is in trouble and needs you to send money to help
  • You got a check for too much money and need to send back the extra.

These are all tricks. When you hear stories like these, you have spotted an imposter scam.

How do I avoid an imposter scam?

Scammers are good at being friendly. They also are good at fooling people. Here is how you can stop a scammer:

  • Never send money to someone you do not know.
  • Never send money because someone contacted you:
    • Even if you feel like you know the person.
    • Even if the person says he is your friend or related to you.

What if I already sent money to someone I don’t know?

If you sent money to someone who contact you, report it to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

The FTC uses complaints to build cases against scammers. Any information you can give helps investigators.

Federal Trade Commission | | September 2018