Have you ever received a phone call from the IRS stating you owe large amounts of money in taxes? What about a call for jury duty asking to confirm your Social Security number? Scammers will often use made-up scenarios like these in an attempt to trick you into giving them money.
Keep the following things in mind to avoid getting scammed:
- Government entities and banks rarely call you, and they never ask for information they already have access to, such as Social Security numbers and routing or account numbers. They will typically send a letter by first-class or certified mail if they need something from you.
- If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. This rule applies to phone calls, emails, pop-up ads and social media messages.
- Never send money to someone you don’t know. Scammers will sometimes hide behind online dating profiles – hoping to trick someone looking for love into giving them money.
Identifying banking scams
Banking scams involve attempts to access your bank account. USA.gov provides the following information on popular banking scams:
- Overpayment scams – A scam artist sends you a counterfeit check and asks you to deposit it in your bank account and wire a portion of the money back.
- 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 company sets up an automatic debit from your bank account, as part of a free trial or to collect lottery winnings.
- Phishing – You receive an email message that asks you to verify your bank account or debit card number.
Preventing banking scams
- Be suspicious if you are told to wire a portion of funds from a check 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 the bank’s website.
- Be fooled by the appearance of checks or money orders. Scammers can make them look official.
- Deposit checks or money orders from strangers or companies you don’t have a relationship with.
- Wire money to people or companies you don’t know.
- Give your bank account number to someone who calls you, even for verification purposes.
- Click on links in email to verify your bank account.
Staying up to date
To know the latest scams, sign up for free email alerts at the FTC’s Scam Alerts webpage.