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Imposter scams often begin with a call, text message, or email. The scams may vary, but work the same way – a scammer pretends to be someone you trust to convince you to send them money or share personal information.


Scammers may ask you to transfer money from your bank, wire money using a company like Western Union or MoneyGram, put money on a gift card, or send cryptocurrency, because they know these types of payments can be hard to reverse. Scammers call, email, or text and claim to be: 

  • A family member (or someone acting for them), saying your relative is sick, has been arrested, or is in serious trouble and needs money right away.
  • From Social Security, claiming that COVID-19-related office closures mean your benefits have been suspended.
  • From your bank, claiming they need to verify personal information before they can send you a new debit or credit card.

Follow these tips to help protect your money and personal information:

  • Be suspicious of any call from a government agency asking for money or information. Government agencies don’t use threats and they don’t call you with promises of – or demands for – money.
  • Don’t trust caller ID – it can be faked.
  • Never pay with a gift card, wire transfer, or cryptocurrency to anyone who tells you to.
  • Check with the real agency, person, or company. Don’t use the phone number they give you. Look it up yourself.

Please share this information and the FTC’s new infographic, developed with the American Bankers Association Foundation.


If you spot an imposter scam, report it to the FTC at Your report can help the FTC’s investigators identify and stop imposters. To get notifications about new scams and tips to avoid them, sign up for our consumer alert.



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The purpose of this blog and its comments section is to inform readers about Federal Trade Commission activity, and share information to help them avoid, report, and recover from fraud, scams, and bad business practices. Your thoughts, ideas, and concerns are welcome, and we encourage comments. But keep in mind, this is a moderated blog. We review all comments before they are posted, and we won’t post comments that don’t comply with our commenting policy. We expect commenters to treat each other and the blog writers with respect.

  • We won’t post off-topic comments, repeated identical comments, or comments that include sales pitches or promotions.
  • We won’t post comments that include vulgar messages, personal attacks by name, or offensive terms that target specific people or groups.
  • We won’t post threats, defamatory statements, or suggestions or encouragement of illegal activity.
  • We won’t post comments that include personal information, like Social Security numbers, account numbers, home addresses, and email addresses. To file a detailed report about a scam, go to

We don't edit comments to remove objectionable content, so please ensure that your comment contains none of the above. The comments posted on this blog become part of the public domain. To protect your privacy and the privacy of other people, please do not include personal information. Opinions in comments that appear in this blog belong to the individuals who expressed them. They do not belong to or represent views of the Federal Trade Commission.

October 21, 2020
This happened to my 91 year old mother. Keep telling your loved ones who are older to hang up! Let them know these scammers will do ANYTHING to get their money!
October 22, 2020
This happened to me Yesterday Oct. 21, 2020. They Used an e-mail claiming I owed for 3 years on a Microsoft Defender Advanced Threat Protection. Phone number given 888-407-1233 . They enticed me ot send 3 - $500.00 Gift card from Best Buy Only. They took control of my computer even showed where they had deposited over the amount of the bill in my account. Later when I checked the bank no such transaction occurred. I am now out $1500.00 and no way to contact Microsoft to report this scam that is done in their name. I am fighting this. Stay away from a new banking app Zelle they used this to further take money out of my account I have not signed up with Zelle with my bank but they were alloed to take money anyway.
FTC Staff
October 28, 2020

In reply to by Greyeagle1

The scammers might have installed apps on your computer. They might have added other viruses to your computer. To be safe, stop banking, shopping or typing personal information on your computer until you have it checked for viruses. 

Update the security software on your computer. Then, do a scan on your computer to check for viruses and spyware. Delete anything the scan identifies as a problem. You might have to restart your computer for the changes to take effect. If you need help, you can check at a store, or look at the package for the software you bought for the computer. The software company might have contact information.

Read more about malware, viruses and spyware.

February 03, 2021

In reply to by FTC Staff

It happened to my 90 years old husband, by the money was robbed directly from Chase bank, saving account, send it on wire transfer to China. the bank doesn't want to accept any responsibility. What can we do? We live in our social security pensions, this is so harmful.
mike h
October 22, 2020
I receive 'scams' pretending to be Wells Fargo - I've never had an account with them. Today and for couple weeks receiving notices that Norton anti virus and McAfee subscriptions have expired - never had either and have a Mac rather than Windows ! This goes on and on .... Why isn't Norton and Wells Fargo etc doing something about this ?
October 22, 2020
I may have posted this comment already, but now that the subject is up, I am going to post it again! I received an "urgent" email from my aunt. The email came from her legitimate email address. The scammer said she needed my help, that it was her nephew's birthday and she was out of town. The scammer asked me to go to Walmart and purchase a $300.00 gift card. Of course, at first, I did think it was my aunt as the email address was hers. I emailed back and said "sure, where do I mail it to you or him?" The scammer replied, "don't mail it, scratch off the back of the card and send me the code". That's when I got suspicious. I took another look at the original email from my aunt and noticed that the manner of speech was not hers and she didn't sign the email "Aunt _______". Her first name was used. I played along with many email questions as if I was confused. Then I told them I had the gift card and the code. They revealed a DIFFERENT email address to send the code to. I called my aunt and told her what was happening and she immediately contacted her ISP provider regarding the theft of her email address. I then turned the emails over to ID
October 22, 2020
I have tried to be scammed by someone stating they are Russell Crowe and now Kevin Costner. I wonder who is next? Gosh its ashame because I really love these guys!
Ben Nahabedian
October 22, 2020
Today I got a call from a local number 954-682-5725. The caller said he was calling me from the Fort Lauderdale office,saying my number was involved in some illegal activities,that I must press #one to speak to the legal department, but I didn't & hung up,would you want me to save it & come to your office & play it for your inspector??
October 28, 2020
I was contacted on instagram. He was from "Lucky day". Said I had won 1.5 million dollars. I had to send him $700 and he would help me out with the last $300. I jumped on it. I got the cards he asked for. After I sent him what he needed, I realized that it was a scammer. Now I have reported it to the fraud department and I am not holding my breath on getting my money back. I feel so dumb.