Skip to main content

10 Things You can do to Avoid Scams

1) Spot imposters.
Scammers often pretend to be someone you trust like a family member, charity or a company you do business with. Don't send money or give out personal information in response to an unexpected request - whether you receive it as a text, phone call or an email.

2) Do online searches.
Type a company or product name into your favorite search engine with words like "review," "complaint," or "scam." Or search for a phrase that describes your situation like "IRS call." You can even search for phone numbers to see if other people have reported scams.

3) Don't believe your caller ID.
Technology makes it easy for scammers to fake caller ID information, so the name and number you see aren't always real. If someone calls asking for money or personal information, hang up. If you think the caller may be telling the truth, call back to a number you know is genuine.

4) Avoid tech support scams.
"Virus detected! Click here or call this number for a free security scan and repair." 
If you've received a message like this, ignore it. This is a tech support scam to steal your money or even get you to download malicious software that can steal your personal information. If you suspect something is wrong with your computer, call the company you bought it from. Do not call phone numbers and don't click on or download anything you see in an email.

5) Don't pay up front for a promise.
Someone might ask you to pay in advance for things like debt relief, credit and loan offers, mortgage assistance or a job. They might even say you've won a prize but first you have to pay taxes or fees. If you do - they will probably take the money and disappear. 

6) Consider how you pay. 
Credit cards have significant fraud protection built in, but some payment methods don't. Wiring money through Western Union or MoneyGram is risky because it's nearly impossible to get your money back. That's also true for reloadable cards (like MoneyPak or Reloadit) and gift cards (like iTunes or Google Play). Government offices and honest companies won't require you to use these payment methods.

7) Talk to someone.
Before you give out your money or personal information, talk to someone you trust. Con artists want you to make decisions in a hurry. They might even threaten you. Slow down, check out the story, do an online search, consult an expert or talk to a friend.

8) Hang up on robocalls.
If you answer the phone and hear a recorded sales pitch, hang up and report it to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). These calls are illegal and often the products are bogus. Don't press "1" to speak to a person or to be taken off the list. This could lead to more calls.

9) Be skeptical about free trial offers.
Some companies use free trials to sign you up for products and bill you every month until you cancel. Before you agree to a free trial, research the company and read the cancellation policy. And always review your monthly statements for charges you don't recognize.

10) Don't deposit a check and wire money back.
By law, financial institutions must make funds from deposited checks available within days but uncovering a fake check can take weeks. If a check you deposit turns out to be fake, you're responsible for repaying the financial institution.

Want to learn more? Sign up for free scam alerts at ftc.gov/scams and receive the latest tips and advice about scams.