Overview of Common Scams: Part One

woman overwhelmed

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.

Grandkid Scams

How it works:

You get a call: “Grandma, I need money for bail.” Or money for a medical bill. Or some other kind of trouble. The caller says it’s urgent—and tells you to keep it a secret.

But is the caller who you think it is? Scammers are good at pretending to be someone they’re not. They can be convincing: sometimes using information from social networking sites, or hacking into your loved one’s email account, to make it seem more real. And they’ll pressure you to send money before you have time to think.

What to do:

Stop. Check it out. Look up your grandkid’s phone number yourself or call another family member. Pretend the call has a bad connection if needed to hang up, but do not immediately act. Pause and take a breath.

Related: What’s the Deal with Social Engineering?

Tech Support Scams

How it works:

You get a call from someone who says he’s a computer technician. He might say he’s from a well-known company like Microsoft, or maybe your internet service provider. He tells you there are viruses or other malware on your computer. He says you’ll have to give him remote access to your computer or buy new software to fix it.

But is the caller who he says he is? Judging by the complaints to the Federal Trade Commission, no. These scammers might want to sell you useless services, steal your credit card number, or get access to your computer to install malware, which could then let them see everything on your computer.

What to do:

Hang up. Never give control of your computer or your credit card information to someone who calls you out of the blue.

Home Repair Scams

How it works:

Someone knocks on your door or calls you. They say they can fix your leaky roof, install new windows, or provide the latest energy-efficient solar panels. They might find you after a flood, windstorm or other natural disaster. They pressure you to act quickly, might ask you to pay in cash, or offer to get you financing.

But here’s what happens next: they run off with your money and never make the repairs. Or they do shoddy repairs that make things worse. Maybe they even put you in a bad financing agreement that puts your house at risk.

What to do:

Stop. Check it out. Before making home repairs, ask for references, licenses and insurance. Get three written estimates. Don’t start work until you have a signed contract. And don’t pay by cash or wire transfer.

Healthcare Scams

How it works:

You see an ad on TV, telling you about a new law that requires you to get a new healthcare card. Maybe you get a call offering you big discounts on health insurance. Or maybe someone says they’re from the government, and she needs your Medicare number to issue you a new card.

Scammers follow the headlines. When it’s Medicare open season, or when healthcare is in the news, they go to work with a new script. Their goal? To get your Social Security number, financial information, or insurance number. Take a minute to think before you talk: Do you really have to get a new healthcare card? Is that discounted insurance a good deal? Is that “government official” really from the government? The answer to all three is almost always: No.

What to do:

Stop. Check it out. Before you share your information, call Medicare (1-800-MEDICARE), do some research, and check with someone you trust.

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.


Fidelity Bank does not control the content of or approve any website that is linked through this browser. Search results are not filtered or screened by the bank or any of its agents, representatives or service providers. Users, who search the Internet using their browser, do so at their own risk, and are responsible for the results. The portals and links are provided by an outside source. Fidelity Bank is not responsible for the content.