Identify and Report Scams and Frauds

Learn how to identify and report frauds and scams.

Most Popular Scams

Get the information you need to protect yourself from being a victim of the latest scam tactics:   

  • Advance fee scams - Don't fall for claims that you have won a lottery, prize, or can invest in a great opportunity, if you have to pay a small fee in advance.
  • Chain letters - These letters promise to help you get rich quickly if you participate and forward the letter on to your friends and family.
  • Charity scams - Scammers take advantage on your willingness to help people in need and charitable causes. They may collect your donation and keep it for themselves instead of using it to help those in need.
  • Coupon scams - Coupons can be a helpful way to save money on your purchases. But beware of illegitimate offers.
  • Dating scams - Scammers may create fake profiles on online dating sites and express interest in you, just so he or she can convince you to send them money.
  • Debt relief scams - Some scammers hope that you are as eager to get rid of your debt as they are to scam you out of your money. Know the warning signs so you won't be their next victim.
  • Free security scans - Don't be tricked by messages on your computer screen that claim that your machine is already infected with a virus. The realistic, but phony, security alerts exploit your fear of online viruses and security threats.
  • Government grant scams - Despite ads that say you qualify for a government grant, these are often scams. Be wary of responding to offers, e-mails or claims that use government agency names.
  • Health product scams - Be wary of trusting all claims. Take time to get the facts about a product first.
  • International financial scams - A variety of scams offer entries into foreign lotteries or international investment opportunities.
  • IRS related scams - Be careful of trusting e-mails that are supposedly from the IRS. Scamsters try to gain access to your financial information in order to steal your identity and assets.
  • Jury duty scams - Someone calls pretending to be a court official who threatens that a warrant has been issued for your arrest because you failed to show up for jury duty.
  • Phantom debt scams - Beware of letters and calls, supposedly from "debt collectors" or "court officials". These scammers make threatening claims requiring you to pay money that don't owe.  
  • Pyramid schemes - These investments offer big profits, but really aren't based on revenue from selling products. Instead, they depend on the recruitment of more investors.
  • Scams that use the names of the FBI or CIA - Avoid falling victim to e-mail schemes involving unsolicited e-mails supposedly sent by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and/or Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). The e-mails appear to be sent from e-mail addresses such as,,, and
  • Service members or veteran scams - Scammers target bogus offers of government resources or financial services to trick active duty military personnel and veterans out of their money.
  • Smishing, vishing, and phishing - All three of these scams rely on you replying to an e-mail, phone call or text with personal information, such as your bank account or credit card numbers.
  • Subpoena scams - Scammers send bogus e-mails, supposedly from a U.S. District Court, stating that you have to come to court. These e-mails are fake and may contain links that are harmful to your computer.
  • Text message spam - Not only can text message spam be annoying and cost you money on your mobile phone bill, but the messages are often for scams.

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Report Frauds and Scams

There are many different types of fraud and each may be reported differently. First, report the fraud to your local police department. You may also contact your state regulators (for example, consumer protection office) to report fraud. Violations of federal laws should be reported to the federal agency responsible for enforcement. While federal agencies are rarely able to act on behalf of individuals, they use complaints to record patterns of abuse which allow an agency to take action against a company or industry. If you suspect fraud, take these steps:

If you report a fraud promptly, you improve your chances of recovering what you have lost. It also helps law enforcement authorities stop scams before other people become victims.

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