How can I recognize a scam?

July 16, 2019

How can I recognize a scam?


Scams become more convincing every year as scammers learn new tactics. It can be difficult to tell the difference between a real call and a scam call. Review the top signs of a scam and check out the other resources listed below to learn about common scams.


What are the top three red flags of a scam?


  1. The call, email, or letter tells you to wire money, buy a gift card, or send cash.
  • Scammers love wire transfers, gift cards, and cash because they are difficult or impossible to trace. When you send money using one of these methods, it is likely gone for good.


  1. There is a sense of urgency.
  • Scammers try to put you off balance by making you feel afraid or excited. They may threaten you with jail time, a lawsuit, or some other danger. They may tell you that you won money, or something else that sounds too good to be true. They may say you need to “act quickly” or send money “right away.” Scammers know that when people feel afraid or excited, we may not think clearly.
  • Either way, the first step is to hang up. Then, you should dial a number you know—such as the number on the back of your Medicare card, if the caller said they were from Medicare—to verify whether the information is true.


  1. The caller asks you to give them personal information, such as your address, Social Security number, bank account information, email address, or passwords.
  • Never give your personal information out over the phone, unless you made the call to a number you know.
  • Never provide your personal information in an email. Reputable companies and government agencies will not ask you to send personal information by email.


What are some common scams?

Read these articles by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to learn about common scams.

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