Overview of Common Scams: Part Two

scam call

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has investigators hard at work to identify scam artists and stop them before they can steal from others. There are many different types of scams currently out there, with fraudsters getting sneakier and trickier every day.

Money Mule Scams

How it works:

Someone might offer you a job. Or say you’ve won a sweepstakes. Or start an online relationship with you. Whatever the story, next they want to send you money—and then ask you to send it on to someone else. They often say to wire the money or use gift cards. But that money is stolen. And there never was a job, a prize, or a relationship—only a scam. That scammer was trying to get you to be what some people call a “money mule.”

If you deposit a scammer’s check, it might clear. But later, when the bank finds out it’s a fake check, you’ll have to repay the bank. And if you help a scammer move stolen money—even if you didn’t know it was stolen—you could get into legal trouble.

What to do:

Keep your money to yourself. Never agree to move money for someone who contacts you, even if they promise a relationship, job, or prize. You could lose money and get in legal trouble.

Charity Fraud

How it works:

Someone contacts you asking for a donation to their charity. It sounds like a group you’ve heard of, it seems real, and you want to help.

How can you tell what charity is legitimate and what’s a scam? Scammers want your money quickly. Charity scammers often pressure you to donate right away. They might ask for cash, and might even offer to send a courier or ask you to wire money. Scammers often refuse to send you information about the charity, give you details, or tell you how the money will be used. They might even thank you for a pledge you don’t remember making.

What to do:

Take your time. Tell callers to send you information by mail. For requests you get in the mail, do your research. Is it a real group? What percentage of your donation goes to the charity? Is your donation tax deductible? How do they want you to pay? Rule out anyone who asks you to send cash or wire money. Chances are, that’s a scam.

“You’ve Won” Scams

How it works:

You get a card, a call, or an email telling you that you won! Maybe it’s a trip or a prize, a lottery or a sweepstakes. The person calling is so excited and can’t wait for you to get your winnings. But here’s what happens next: they tell you there’s a fee, some taxes, or customs duties to pay. And then they ask for your credit card number or bank account information, or they ask you to wire money.

Either way, you lose money instead of winning it. You don’t ever get that big prize. Instead, you get more requests for money, and more promises that you won big.

What to do:

Keep your money—and your information—to yourself. Never share your financial information with someone who contacts you and claims to need it. And never wire money to anyone who asks you to.

Related: Stay Safe From Scams This Holiday Season

Unwanted Calls

How it works:

You pick up the phone and hear a recorded message—a robocall—or a live person selling something. Maybe it’s not who your caller ID said it was. It’s frustrating, and you just want it to stop. Recorded sales calls are illegal, unless you give a business written permission to robocall you. If your number is on the Do Not Call Registry, you’re not supposed to get any sales calls—live or recorded. But scammers ignore the rules about when and how they can call you.

Scammers can use technology to make their calls look like they come from anywhere: the IRS, a business you know, a neighbor, or even your own number. Because phone numbers can be faked, you can’t trust your caller ID.

What to do:

Hang up. Don’t press a number. Just hang up the phone on unwanted calls. Consider call-blocking services to reduce the number of unwanted calls you get. Ask your phone carrier about call blocking and read expert reviews about your options. Learn more at ftc.gov/calls.

Please Report Scams

Do you think someone is trying to scam you? Contact Fidelity Bank or your current bank to help monitor your account for suspicious activity. If you spot a scam, please report it to the Federal Trade Commission so they can help other potential victims.

  • Call the FTC at 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357) or TTY 1-866-653-4261
  • Go online: ftc.gov/complaint

The Fidelity Bank team wants to help our customers keep their money safe. If you want to make a transfer of funds, we can help advise a safer way to move money instead of common scam methods like cryptocurrency, prepaid gift cards, cash or wire transfers. Contact us.

Discover other common scams that the FTC has seen reported.


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