Imposter Scams: The Latest Information That Can Keep You Safe

Last year, people reported almost half a million business and government imposter scams directly to the FTC. These reports reveal three trends:

  1. Scammers are relying more on text or email messages to start their schemes, and less on phone calls.
  2. Scammers are increasingly convincing people to send money through bank transfers or to pay with cryptocurrency.
  3. Scammers often impersonate more than one organization, like a business and a government agency.

And these are the five most common imposter scams people described:

  1. Scammers send bogus alerts about suspicious activity or unauthorized charges on your account. For example, they will spoof their phone number to make it look like Amazon is calling. Don’t trust the number in your caller ID and don’t trust what the caller tells you.
  2. Scammers send you phony notices saying they’re going to charge you hundreds of dollars to renew a subscription, often impersonating Best Buy’s Geek Squad tech support service. If you call the number — which you should not do — the scammer might ask for remote access to your computer. If you give it to them, they can install spyware programs on your computer, steal your online banking credentials, and drain money from your bank account.
  3. Scammers try to trick you into paying for things like fake discounts, bogus giveaways, or non-existent prizes.
  4. Scammers make bogus allegations implying you committed a crime but then claim they’ll connect you with someone who’ll help. To learn more about this intricate scheme, read Never move your money to “protect it.” That’s a scam.
  5. Scammers send you fake delivery notifications to trick you into giving up your financial information and have been known to impersonate the U.S. Postal Service and FedEx.

If you spot a scam, or something you think is a scam, tell the FTC: