Specific scams to defraud victims change over time. However, there are common themes and red flags that can help you identify a potential scam.
Watch out for red flags
- A surprise windfall that seems too good to be true. If you’ve been notified that you won a sweepstakes you didn’t enter, or if you were notified that you inherited money from a relative you’ve never met, you’re likely being scammed.
- A check was sent to you, but you’re asked to wire back part of the total. The check is likely fake, leaving you out the money you wired, plus any bank fees for the returned check.
- Pressure to pay immediately or to pay over the phone. Thieves succeed by getting you to pay now and think later.
- Paying money to get money. Legitimate lotteries, sweepstakes, timeshare sales and inheritances won’t ask you for taxes, processing, shipping or any other fees upfront.
- Receiving a request to pay through gift cards, wire transfers or cryptocurrency. Scammers want you to send cash equivalents they can use quickly.
- Denied credit. Denials of credit for no apparent reason or significant, unexplained changes in your credit score may be signs your identity has been compromised.
Know the latest scam trends
Thieves are continually refining their methods, but you can help stay ahead of the scammers by checking trusted sources for updates and fraud trends: