Scammers are always looking for innovative ways to separate you from your money. Whether their goal is to gain access to your cash, or to gain control of your personal information so they can commit fraud, they frequently play on psychological manipulation to get you to comply. Here some common scams to be aware of:
- Impersonating the IRS — scammers frequently impersonate the IRS, attempting to convince their victims that they owe money and must pay immediately or suffer legal consequences. They play on a sense of fear and urgency, so their victims often don’t realize they’ve been scammed until it’s too late. Remember, the IRS will never initiate contact via phone, text, or email, and won’t ask for your debit or credit card information over the phone. If your receive a call that you suspect might be legitimate, hang up, confirm the phone number through another source, and call back.
- Impersonating Law Enforcement — another tactic that plays on fear and urgency, scammers inform their victims that they have a warrant out for their arrest or that someone close to them is in jail and needs funds to be bailed out. These scams often use Caller ID Spoofing, which means the call appears to be legitimate.
- Gift Card Scams — gift cards are the preferred currency of scammers, because once they get the number your money is gone and it’s hard to recover. A common red flag of any scam is that they demand to paid in gift cards. Remember, legitimate agencies will never ask you to pay with a gift card.
- Fake Check Scams — this tactic takes a variety of forms, but the end result is the same. The scammer gives the victim a fake check to deposit, but the victim must send a portion back for reasons that sound convincing. It typically takes some time for the check to come back as counterfeit, after which the victim is left paying back their financial institution and the scammer is long gone with their payment. Recently, scammers have been adapting the fake check scam to target teens on social media channels like Instagram and Tik Tok.