A scam is an act committed that intends to take something of importance from unsuspecting people. These items of importance are usually money, personal information such as your passwords, bank account information, or social security number, or even your identity. Scams come in a variety of forms, both physical and digital. Some examples are letters, emails, lottery tickets, tickets to an event, phone calls, and unplanned visits from people claiming to be with a company. Scams can be performed by anyone at any location, and by one person, a group of people, or even companies dedicated to scamming others for their own benefit.
There are a variety of different scams that exist. We've listed some of the most common ones below.
Imposter scams are some of the most common scams, and are the main type of scam people remember when discussing them. Imposter scammers pretend to be someone they are not - including your family. Common impersonations these scammers pretend to be include the IRS, Social Security, charities, companies, and people you know, such as your grandparents, parents, friends, children, or grandchildren. With the development of Artificial Intelligence, or AI, these scams are becoming more realistic and more dangerous. Scammers are teaching AI to sound like certain family members in trouble needing money. Diligence is extremely important when determining what is and is not a scam, and it is better to be safe than sorry.
While imposter scams take on a variety of different forms, they all have the same goal: to put you in a situation where you feel rushed and need to make an impulsive decision quickly. If they succeed, they are more likely to have access to what they want - your money or personal information. Imposter Scammers are most likely to ask for money to be wired to them or placed on a gift card.
To protect yourself from Imposter Scams, follow the tips below:
Investment scams occur when a scammer advertises techniques to make money quickly, easily, and with low risk by investing in financial markets, real estate markets, or precious metals and coins by learning from them with coaching. Their course is often advertised as a "patended," "tested," or "proven" strategy that will even allow you to stop working. The trick is that, although their advertisements and introductory videos are free, the courses are often expensive, filled with lies about the success people achieve, and exaggerate the amount of money you can make. Sadly, these scams are growing in popularity, with the FTC reporting a total loss of 3.8 billion in 2022 due to Investment Scams. These scams can be especially popular on social media, with scammers setting up profiles of them as coaches and making videos about fake success.
To protect yourself from Investment Scams, follow the tips below:
Sweepstake scams are a type of scam that try to steal your money, personal information, or to even download malware on your device by convincing you that you've won a prize of some kind. According to the FTC, these are some of the top scam reports made. These scams are delivered in a variety of ways, such as letters, emails, phone calls, and direct messages. A key identifier of these types of scams is them requiring you to give money or personal information to them in exchange for the prize. In the event that you win a prize, you do not need to exchange money nor information to receive it.
To protect yourself from Sweepstake Scams, follow the tips below:
Ticket scams are when someone uses tickets that are fake or nonexistent at bait to steal your money. These tickets can be for anything, from local events and concerts to train or plane tickets for a vacation. There is a higher risk to be scammed when buying tickets through unauthorized third party sellers or suspicious websites.
To protect yourself from ticket scams, follow the tips below:
Dating scams are when a scammer pretends to be romantically interested in someone in order to receive money from them through cash, wiring money, or gift cards. Victims of this scam give into their requests because they care about them and do not know their real intentions. Victims may even ignore when others point out that their partner is a scammer and stealing their money. Scammers play with the emotions of their victims by showering them with praise and adoration, and prefer to target those who are lonely or vulnerable since they are easier to trick with emotional manipulation. While a variety of methods are used, from fake dating profiles on legitimate dating websites to fake dating websites and fake links to collect data, the goal is the same - to manipulate you in order to benefit themselves.
To protect yourself from Dating Scams, follow the tips below:
Unemployment scams are a type of scam similar to identity theft in that the scammer uses the victim's personal information to gain the benefits for themselves. If you happen to receive a notice from your state's unemployment office, a notice from your former employer about unemployment benefits, a direct deposit from your state's unemployment office, or a call from someone claiming to be from your state unemployment office and you did not request any information or deposits, someone is most likely trying to commit an unemployment scam against you.
To protect yourself against Unemployment Scams, follow the tips below:
While there are a variety of scams and a variety of ways to keep yourself, some of the basics are:
If you have been scammed, it is important to report the scammer. There are multiple government-run websites, emails, and phone numbers that receive scam reports regularly. Some of them are:
If you have given a scammer money or personal information, it is possible to get it back. You can reach out to the respective source and report the incident and hopefully cancel the transaction. While it may not be possible to get your funds back, it is important to report that it happened. For a full list of resources to contact depending on what scam occured to you, please refer to this guide by the FTC by clicking here.
Remember that identity theft is possible if you have been scammed. Please refer to our Identity Theft page for more information and resources to help you if you are at risk of or have lost your identity to a scammer or hacker.
For more information on scams, please refer to the sources below that we refer to for scam information and prevention: