Running a scam or fraud is another time-tested method for identity thieves. They may contact you in person; by phone, postal mail, or email; or through the Internet to try to trick you into giving out personal information.
Avoid scam artist ploys by following these tips.
- Stay aware of current scams. Watch or read the news. The nation’s consumer protection agency, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), offers information and tips on current scams. Go to "Consumer Alerts at consumer.ftc.gov/features/scam-alerts. For Internet scam updates, go to the Internet Crime Complaint Center at ic3.gov and click on “Consumer Alerts” link.
- Before divulging personal information to anyone, know with whom you’re dealing. Independently verify any information provided. Find the physical address and phone number of who contacted you by yourself. Don’t trust email addresses given by unknown people. Search online for company’s name and website. Read through the site, and read any online reviews of the person or business.
- Never reply to messages asking personal information, whether the message was sent over the phone or by email, text message, or through an ad. Do not call phone numbers or click on links contained in these messages. You could be target of phishing.
- Never send money or account information in reply to notices that you won a prize or lottery.
- Give only to established charities. Avoid pop-up charities that suddenly appear after disasters. Check a charity’s trustworthiness at org, the Better Business Bureau’s Wise Giving Alliance site.
- Don’t fall for pressure tactics. Never react quickly or impulsively to offers or requests.
- Be wary of “imposter” scams in which a scammer pretends to be someone close to you or an entity you’re unlikely to question. The FTC reported a big increase in complaints about imposter scams. Fraudsters pretended to be family members, friends, love interests, government agencies, or companies, often trying to get personal information.
To report a scam or fraud, contact:
- Your local police department and State Attorney General’s Office
- The Federal Trade Commission at ftccomplaintassistant.gov
- The Internet Crime Complaint Center (if Internet related) at ic3.gov
- The U.S. Postal Inspection Service (if mail related) at uspis.gov/report/