Scams

This post includes content adapted from onguardonline.gov.

Scammers use email, online ads, pop ups, and search results to trick you into sending them money and personal information. Sadly, millions of people fall prey to scams each year. They know just what to say to get you to trust them because that’s their job. Don’t fall for their traps.

Some common scams include:

  • Work-at-Home Scams – They promise a steady income and the ability to work-at-home, but they don’t deliver. They may force you into spending your own money to complete assignments, and you won’t be paid for all the hours you put in.
  • Weight Loss Claims: They promise you’ll lose an absurd amount of weight in just 8 weeks using some special pill, patch, or cream. These scammers prey on your sense of hopefulness and the only thing you’ll lose is money.
  • Lotteries and Sweepstakes Scams: These scams will send you an email or message that says you already won a lot of money, and to claim it, all you need to do is wire over money to cover taxes, fees, shipping costs, or insurance. Sometimes they may ask for you to send a check or to provide a credit card number. The catch is that it is illegal to play a foreign lottery and legitimate American lotteries would never ask for you to pay to enter to win.
  • Never give money to a person you know only through the Internet.  One common scam is to get you to believe that there is a strong love interest, but they can’t come to the U.S. or to your area.  They want to be with you, but they can’t afford it.  Once you pay for their passage, you never hear from them again.

For a list of more common scams, click here: http://onguardonline.gov/articles/0002-common-online-scams

To Avoid Falling Prey to Scammers, follow these tips:

  • Use your email’s spam filter. Email spam filters are already trained to catch known scams and protect you from them. Make sure your spam filter is turned on!
  • Do a little research; Google the company to find a phone number, address and reviews to determine if they’re legitimate. Just remember when you’re online, a little research can save you a lot of money.
  • Keep track of your bank statements to make sure you aren’t being charged for anything without your knowledge. If you are, contact your bank or card issuer immediately.
  • Only give to reputable charities.
  • Help others by reporting suspicious emails to spam@uce.gov.

If you think you may have been scammed, file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission. If you are outside the U.S., file a complaint at econsumer.gov. Complaints are entered into the Consumer Sentinel Network, an online database used by hundreds of law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad.

Learn More:

U.S. Federal Trade Commission.

The Internet Crime Complaint Center.

U.S. Department of State.