How to report a scammer
- File a complaint with the FTC(Opens in a new Window)
- Report a scam with the BBB(Opens in a new Window)
- Call a government agency(Opens in a new Window)
- Don’t give out your password (and don’t use the same password for multiple accounts)
- Avoid accepting unknown friend requests
- Use a secured network, not public Wi-Fi, when signing into any accounts (especially your bank account)
- Keep apps, browsers and antivirus software updated
The Federal Trade Commission has been getting reports of people getting letters in the mail from a law firm. They are, they say, looking for the heir of a multi-million-dollar inheritance. And they think it might be you. (Spoiler alert: it’s not.)
Here’s what they offer: they’ll split the inheritance between you, their law firm, and some charities. One other thing: they say you have to keep this information secret and reach out to them by email — immediately.
So what’s really happening? This is not a lawyer — it’s a scammer. And if you email them, they’ll probably try to get your personal information, like your Social Security or bank account numbers, your money — or both. And that inheritance? It doesn’t exist.
Here’s what to do if you get one of these letters:
- Don’t respond. Keep your money — and your information — to yourself. Never send money or information to a stranger who promises big rewards. That’s always a scam.
- Pass this information on to a friend. You probably throw away these kinds of letters. But you probably know someone who could use a friendly reminder.
- Report it to the FTC at ReportFraud.ftc.gov.
The phony postings are hard to pass up. They offer great pay, telework options, and money to set up a home office. But here’s an example of how the scam works. First, they get your information and send you a check for, say, $4,000. Once the check “clears”, they tell you to keep $1,000 as a salary advance, and send back $3,000 — supposedly to get a computer and office equipment. But the job and the equipment never appear. And sadly, when the bank realizes the check is fake, you’re out of the job and now $3,000 in debt.
To avoid similar job scams:
- Verify job openings before you apply. Visit the official website for the organization or company you’re applying for. Most include a “career opportunities” or “jobs” section.
- See what others are saying. Look up the name of the company along with words like “scam,” “review,” or “complaint.” The results may include the experiences of others who’ve lost money.
- Don’t pay for the promise of a job. Legit employers will never ask you to pay to get a job. Anyone who does is a scammer.
- Never deposit a check from someone you don’t know. An honest employer will never send you a check and then tell you to send them part of the money.
If you paid a scammer, call the company you used to pay right away (the gift card or money transfer company, for example). Ask them to reverse the charge.
- Work-from-home scams: There are number of ways to make money online but also a lot of traps, as listed by The Penny Hoarder(Opens in a new Window). Watch out for jobs that require you to pay in order to start work and those that sound too good to be true.
- Cryptocurrency accounts: These scams offer you bank accounts to deposit your bitcoin or other cryptocurrency, with promises of doubling or tripling your money.
- Generate passive income with our system: This scam sells you a “proven system” to help you become an overnight financial success. Typically, these are loaded with fake testimonials and bogus information.
- If you receive an email, a telephone call, or a bulk mail letter saying that you've won a big prize from PCH, it's a scam. According to the PCH website: "All PCH prizes of $500 or greater are awarded by either certified or express letter or in person by our famous Prize Patrol at our option." So, you know that if you receive a prize notification by any other method than certified mail or an in-person award, you are being scammed.
- Scammers extort money from you in exchange for a promise of a prize that never materializes. The truth is you never, ever have to pay to receive a sweepstakes prize from Publishers Clearing House or any other company.
You don't have to give Publishers Clearing House your address, bank account number, driver’s license number or any other confidential information when you first enter. You may have to fill out an affidavit to verify eligibility if you win, but not when you first enter or when you are first notified that you are a winner. If the entry form is asking for this kind of personal information, it's a sign you are on a spoofed website.Scammers sometimes make it appear that you're not "really" paying for your prize by handing over a check and asking you to send back some of the money. After all, they're providing the funds, right? Wrong. Those checks aren't legitimate, and you will be left holding the bill.
- There are some steps that you can take to verify your prize wins. Some of them include never, ever paying money to receive a prize and using Google to search for similar win notifications that have been reported to consumer organizations as scams. Before you respond to any notifications, take these steps to protect yourself.
- If you have checked the steps above and you're still not sure if your win notice is legitimate, you can contact PCH directly to ask them to verify your prize. Do NOT use the telephone numbers or email addresses included in your win notice; scammers fake that information to trick their victims.
- Don’t give money or gifts to someone you haven’t met in real life
- Be careful what you post online and avoid sending photos of yourself, which can be used for blackmail
- Do a reverse image search of the person’s profile to see if he/she may be using a stolen photo
- Talk to someone you trust and pay attention if friends and family are concerned
- Don’t reply or click any links
- Call the company directly if you suspect the text may not be real (use the phone number on its real site)
- Delete the text
The old phrase “If it seems too good to be true, it probably is” certainly applies to shopping online. Fake shopping websites have been popping up lately, aiming to scam you out of your hard-earned money. Pay attention to these red flags, which will help tip you off to a fake website or online store:
- Bad English and/or poor website design
- Super-low prices that seem too good to be true
- Bootleg logo, store name and/or URL (e.g. “you-pay-less-4-mac-stuff.com” or a site with a URL that’s one or two letters off from a legitimate domain)
- Inability to accept credit or debit card payments
- Reviews that sound suspicious or inauthentic
How can you protect yourself from fake shopping websites?
- If you are wary of a fake site, run it through Google’s Transparency tool(Opens in a new Window) or the BBB’s Scam Tracke(Opens in a new Window)r
- Only purchase items online using a secured network
- Check to be sure the web address begins with “https,” indicating your personal and payment information is encrypted
- Use two-factor authentication for paying online