If you’re convinced that scams only affect a particular group of people, think again. Sadly, millions of Americans are targeted by scammers every year. More than three million people reported fraud to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in 2019.
The most common, imposter scams, involve individuals pretending to be someone of trust to get money or personal information from a victim. This includes personal information like your Social Security number or access to your finances. The top frauds reported last year were from people pretending to be from the government, a well-known business, or a romantic interest in need of help.
A large portion of imposter scams are those pretending to be from the U.S. government. A few of the more common ones are:
IRS Scams: These scammers send a notice through email, mail, or phone calls in an attempt to gain access to your tax or banking information to steal your identity and money. Learn how to report these scammers if you’ve been affected.
Social Security Scams: Individuals pose as benefits investigators claiming a problem with your Social Security account. At times, they will tell you your number has been suspended and give a false number to call in order to “resolve” the issue. If you or a loved one has received one of these threatening calls, you can report them directly to the Social Security Administration.
Telephone Scams: Scammers try to steal money and personal information through phone calls, text messages or robocalls. They can convince you that you are getting free products or opportunities to invest your money or even get more. These fraudsters often make threats of jail or lawsuits if a fee isn’t paid. Fight these by reporting them to the appropriate authorities.
Charity Scams: Charity scammers take advantage of disasters and tragedies by pretending to be legitimate. Imposters create fake organizations mimicking real ones to entice the generosity of those affected emotionally. Learn who to report them to.
Romance Scams: Finding love online can be a double-edged sword if you’re not careful. It can be someone who lives near you or someone posing as a doctor or military officer stationed far away. Be aware that people can create fake profiles on dating and social media sites in an attempt to find a match and convince you to help financially. Understand the signs of these situations and what to do if you’ve been affected by one.
Investment Scams: These scammers ask you to invest money to earn higher returns without financial risk. Companies then request you to bring more people in to do the same. They often need a constant flow of new people investing in order to make money. Ponzi and pyramid schemes are great examples of investment scams. Contact the Securities and Exchange Commission or your state's securities regulator to get help.
Most Americans have been targeted or even lost money or personal information as a result of scams. Lessen your chances of it happening. Look out for common elements and follow these 10 tips to help prevent becoming a victim in the future.
Visit USA.gov/Stop-Scams-Fraud for more information on scams, how to prevent them and how to report them.
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Join the upcoming live Twitter chat on Thursday, March 5, 2020, at 11 AM ET for tips, important resources, and answers to your questions about scams and fraud. Follow along on @USAGov or use the hashtag #SlamTheScamChat to monitor the conversation.
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