Sending money out of love, or sending a scammer money?
Love is a powerful thing. So when a loved one calls or emails, saying they’re in trouble, you’d want to help, right? If they ask you to send cash immediately — should you follow your heart?
The short answer is: no. Unfortunately, scammers pretend to be someone you know to trick you into sending money. They might pressure you to wire money quickly to help with an emergency — to get out of jail, pay a hospital bill, or leave a foreign country.
In the rush to help, you might not stop and think: does this make sense? But even if the story sounds legitimate, take a minute and run through these steps:
- Stop. Don’t act immediately, no matter what they say the crisis is.
- Check with the person who seems to be in trouble. Use a number or email address that you know is right. Check out the story. If you don’t reach the person immediately, check with someone who might know his or her situation. If the caller says not to tell any other family members or friends, that’s a sign of a scam.
- Don’t wire money to anyone who asks you to. Wiring money is like sending cash — once you send it gone, it’s gone. The same goes for prepaid debit cards. Nobody ever needs to be paid in prepaid debit cards.
If you think you’ve responded to a scam, report it immediately to the FTC or call 1-877-FTC-HELP.