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Chances are good that someone you know has been scammed. They may not talk about it, but the statistics do.

The truth is that sharing what you know can help protect someone who you know from a scam.

Yes. You. People listen to you because they trust you. You’re a friend, a neighbor, a relative.

And that’s why we created these articles, presentations, video and activities — to help you start that conversation, and pass on some information that could help someone you know.

 

 

Identity Theft

Someone gets your personal information and runs up bills in your name. They might use your Social Security or Medicare number, your credit card, or your medical insurance — along with your good name.

How would you know? You could get bills for things you didn’t buy or services you didn’t get. Your bank account might have withdrawals you didn’t make. You might not get bills you expect. Or, you could check your credit report and find accounts you never knew about.

Here’s what you can do:

  1. Protect your information. Put yourself in another person’s shoes. Where would they find your credit card or Social Security number? Protect your personal information by shredding documents before you throw them out, by giving your Social Security number only when you must, and by using strong passwords online.
  2. Read your monthly statements and check your credit. When you get your account statements and explanations of benefits, read them for accuracy. You should recognize what’s there. Once a year, get your credit report for free from AnnualCreditReport.com or 1-877-322-8228. The law entitles you to one free report each year from each credit reporting company. If you see something you don’t recognize, you will be able to deal with it.

Please Report Identity Theft

If you suspect identity theft, act quickly. Please report it to the Federal Trade Commission. Report identity theft online or call the FTC at 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357) or TTY 1-866-653-4261. The FTC operator will give you the next steps to take. Visit ftc.gov/idtheft to learn more.

 

 


 

Imposter Scams

You get a call or an email. It might say you’ve won a prize. It might seem to come from a government official. Maybe it seems to be from someone you know — your grandchild, a relative or a friend. Or maybe it’s from someone you feel like you know, but you haven’t met in person — say, a person you met online who you’ve been writing to.

Whatever the story, the request is the same: wire money to pay taxes or fees, or to help someone you care about. But is the person who you think it is? Is there an emergency or a prize? Judging by the complaints to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the answer is no. The person calling you is pretending to be someone else.

Here’s what you can do:

  1. Stop. Check it out — before you wire money to anyone. Call the person, the government agency, or someone else you trust. Get the real story. Then decide what to do. No government agency will ever ask you to wire money.
  2. Pass this information on to a friend. You may not have gotten one of these calls or emails, but the chances are you know someone who has.

Please Report Scams

If you spot a scam, please report it to the Federal Trade Commission. Report a scam online or call the FTC at 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357) or TTY 1-866-653-4261. Your complaint can help protect other people. By filing a complaint, you can help the FTC’s investigators identify the imposters and stop them before they can get someone’s hard-earned money. It really makes a difference.

Types of Imposter Scams

 

 


 

Charity Fraud

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.

Here’s what you can do:

  1. 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.
  2. Pass this information on to a friend. It’s likely that nearly everyone you know gets charity solicitations. This information could help someone else spot a possible scam.

Please Report Scams

If you spot a scam, please report it to the Federal Trade Commission. Report a scam online or call the FTC at 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357) or TTY 1-866-653-4261. Your complaint can help protect other people. By filing a complaint, you can help the FTC’s investigators identify scammers and stop them before they can get someone’s hard-earned money. It really makes a difference.

 

 


 

Health Care Scams

You see an ad on TV, telling you about a new law that requires you to get a new health care 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 health care 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.

So take a minute to think before you talk: Do you really have to get a new health care 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.

Here’s what you can do:

  1. Stop. Check it out. Before you share your information, call Medicare (1-800-MEDICARE), do some research, and check with someone you trust. What’s the real story?
  2. Pass this information on to a friend. You probably saw through the requests. But chances are you know someone who could use a friendly reminder.

Please Report Scams

If you spot a health care scam, please report it to the Federal Trade Commission. Report scams online or call the FTC at 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357) or TTY 1-866-653-4261. Your complaint can help protect other people. By filing a complaint, you can help the FTC’s investigators identify scam artists and stop them before they can access to a friend’s hard-earned money. It really makes a difference.

 

 


 

Home Improvement Scams

Here’s how they work:

Someone knocks on your door or calls you. He says he can fix your leaky roof, install new windows, or give you the latest energy-efficient solar panels. He may say he’s in the area, working on your neighbors’ homes. Or he might find you after a flood, windstorm or other natural disaster. He pressures you to act quickly and might even ask you to pay in cash.

But here’s what happens next: he runs off with your money and never makes the repairs. Or he does shoddy repairs that make things worse. Maybe he even arranges a bad financing agreement that puts your house at risk.

Here’s what you can do:

  1. Stop. Check it out.

    Before you start home repairs:

    • Check with people you trust for recommendations.
    • Get written estimates from three companies.
    • Ask for references and for proof of licenses and insurance.
    • Don’t let anyone start work until you have a signed contract.
    • Be sure you read and understand the contract before you sign it.
    • Don’t pay by cash, gift card or wire transfer. If you need financing, use a bank or lender you trust.
  2. Pass on this information to a friend. You may see through these scams. But chances are you know someone who could use a friendly reminder.

Want to know more? Sign up for scam alerts at ftc.gov/subscribe.

Please Report Scams

If you spot a scam, please report it to the Federal Trade Commission.

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

Your complaint can help protect other people. By filing a complaint, you can help the FTC’s investigators identify the scammers and stop them before they can get someone’s hard-earned money. It really makes a difference.

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.

 


 

Paying Too Much

Everyone pays all kinds of bills. Some are higher than you think they should be. Sometimes, unexpected charges appear on your bill – or sometimes, you might see a fee for a service you don’t recall ordering. Are you paying more than you should?

You are your own best advocate. How often does a company figure out that you’ve overpaid – and refund your money? It could happen – but you’re more likely to get money back if you spot the error and point it out.

It means keeping track of what you normally pay, and what the charges are for. You also can ask for a better deal: call to see if there’s a promotion you qualify for and how long it will last, or if they can lower your interest rate. They might say no – but if you don’t ask, you don’t get.

Here’s what you can do:

  1. Read every statement, every time. Does something look wrong or unfamiliar? Call the company and ask. If you don’t like the response you get, ask for a supervisor. And keep written records of your calls.
  2. Pass this information on to a friend. Not paying more than you need to might come easily to you. But you probably know someone who could use some friendly encouragement.

Please Report Scams

If you spot a scam, please report it to the Federal Trade Commission. Report scams online or call the FTC at 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357) or TTY 1-866-653-4261.

Your complaint can help protect other people. By filing a complaint, you can help the FTC’s investigators identify bad business practices and scam artists, and stop a friend from over-paying. It really makes a difference.

 

 


 

"You've Won" Scams

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.

Here’s what you can do:

  1. 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.
  2. Pass this information on to a friend. You probably throw away these kinds of scams or hang up when you get these calls. But you probably know someone who could use a friendly reminder.

Please Report Scams

If you spot a scam, please report it to the Federal Trade Commission. Report scams online or call the FTC at 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357) or TTY 1-866-653-4261. Your complaint can help protect other people. By filing a complaint, you can help the FTC’s investigators identify the scammers and stop them before they can get someone’s hard-earned money. It really makes a difference.