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If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you know that every year we report on the top scams people tell us about. And that we take a deeper dive into the data through our Data Spotlight reports. A new Data Spotlight about business and government imposters shines a light on the top imposter scams.

Last year, people reported almost half a million business and government imposter scams directly to the FTC. These reports reveal three trends:

  1. Scammers are relying more on text or email messages to start their schemes, and less on phone calls.
  2. Scammers are increasingly convincing people to send money through bank transfers or to pay with cryptocurrency.
  3. Scammers often impersonate more than one organization, like a business and a government agency.

And these are the five most common imposter scams people described:

  1. Scammers send bogus alerts about suspicious activity or unauthorized charges on your account. Our recent blog post, Did you get a call or text about a suspicious purchase on Amazon? It’s a scam, breaks down this complicated scam.
  2. Scammers send you phony notices saying they’re going to charge you hundreds of dollars to renew a subscription, often impersonating Best Buy’s Geek Squad tech support service. Find out how to recognize a fake Geek Squad renewal scam.
  3. Scammers try to trick you into paying for things like fake discounts, bogus giveaways, or non-existent prizes.
  4. Scammers make bogus allegations implying you committed a crime but then claim they’ll connect you with someone who’ll help. To learn more about this intricate scheme, read Never move your money to “protect it.” That’s a scam.
  5. Scammers send you fake delivery notifications to trick you into giving up your financial information, and have been known to impersonate the U.S. Postal Service and FedEx.

As the Data Spotlight shows, imposter scams evolve over time. To stay a step ahead of them, check out our blog series, Anatomy of an Imposter Scam.

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Anatomy of an imposter scam banner

And if you spot a scam, or something you think is a scam, tell the FTC: ReportFraud.ftc.gov.

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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.
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  • 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 ReportFraud.ftc.gov.

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.

Linda Smith
April 02, 2024

I so appreciate all the updates you send me regarding scams. I live in a mobile home park that was sold a couple of years ago to a investment company that is out of state. I went to the mgmt office and suggested that they get from you the updates on scams and put the info out in the monthly newsletter as 80%of our residents are Senior Citizens and many don't have internet access. Did they do that? No. Sad.

jr
April 02, 2024

Got the phony notice from Geek Squad that I owed Geek Squad $249.95. My advice, just hit your spam button. You might want to print it out and go into Best Buy and show them the notice. It may help others.

Margaret Stringer
April 02, 2024

You should mention the gazillions of scammers on social media, parading as celebrities. With all the censorship done undoubtedly by AI, why isn't AI programmed/taught to recognize those? Methinks it would be TOO easy to spot a scammer and delete the account. For example, there is one real Tom Jones, and god knows how many scammers using his name. One Tom Jones, one verified check mark, and NOBODY ELSE can open an account under the same name, especially while using stolen pictures.

Chris V
April 03, 2024

In reply to by Margaret Stringer

Hi Margaret, I don't work at FTC, but yes, you are right! More can be done to train AI to detect bad actors and remove malicious accounts, comments and links. Unfortunately, criminals also automate their techniques, and they keep changing, hiding their locations, and reopening new accounts. It's quite annoying.

If you're referring to Twitter (renamed "X"), though, please let Elon Musk know directly that you think he should eliminate the fake accounts. You can tweet him directly, if you have an account. He changed what Twitter allows.

Ed
April 02, 2024

I would lie to know how successful you are on bringing these individuals to trial.

WandaFPorche-Emokpae
April 02, 2024

I would like to know more about the solar energy. Which ones are real and which one are fake. Please address this subject.

Thank you so much

Natalie Gough
April 02, 2024

Thank you for your excellent report.

Valerie Owens
April 02, 2024

Thank you so much for providing this information; it is very helpful.

Cecelia Blango
April 02, 2024

Very helpful information.

John Canty
April 02, 2024

Thank you, I have
Notice these attempts regarding emails,& Texts... especially the ones WITH USPS, FEX,& GIFT CARDS 🤨!

Lillian Penner
April 02, 2024

I received a call 206-414-0119 claiming to be Apple. I got into his conversation befor My husban d made me handg up then I hung up.

DonE
April 02, 2024

If these scammers received long jail time instead of minimal fines when prosecuted, which seldom happens, they may not wish to take the risk. Those outside US jurisdiction could suddenly disappear under mysterious circumstances.

Elizabeth Twomey
April 02, 2024

I need to get in touch with someone that can help me ASAP. A lot has happened over the past two years with my iPhone since my husband died. I’m very concerned about my finances and being followed.. i’ve been to Apple and Verizon several times over the past two years, but two new phones and still goes on. My Social Security number and my kids Social Security were jeopardized as well with other personal information or I was living temporarily I don’t know what else to do I can’t keep buying phones and I’m 64. I need to keep working, do you have any suggestions or direction?

CLAUDIA S SPAZIANTE
April 02, 2024

I recommend that everyone get a good call blocker so that you won't receive half of the telephone calls that are mostly scams. Once installed you have to tweak it a bit to make sure you're still getting the calls you want it's worth it though. I am currently using Realcall, and it works very well. Text messages can get through still so watch out. I got a text with several numbers on it one of which was International so I knew right away I had to delete it.

Ray Ardiles
April 02, 2024

Thank you FTC, for keeping us up to date on fraud, and scams. There are awful people out there who would rather steal than work.

Joyce Plummer
April 02, 2024

How do I stop them send me these scam emails?

Margaret Owens
April 02, 2024

I got caught up in this scam and I thought I was tech savvy! This message was 3 days too late for me. 😢

fmar
April 02, 2024

always helpful

Chris V
April 03, 2024

Another scam technique I've seen recently is email pretending to be a survey from a major retailer (Costco, in this case). They rely on the familiar name and hope you have shopped there.

The email text and pictures looked as if they were copied from a genuine Costco email. The scammers just changed the links and the sender. The main "tell" was the sending email address (From): it did not end with Costco's domain name. Plus, I don't shop there and never have....

Debbie
April 04, 2024

Are you able to educate us about AI scams? A neighbor was scammed by AI. They had cloned the granddaughter's voice by AI. My neighbor's said it sounded just like her. They lost thousands of dollars.

FTC Staff
April 04, 2024

In reply to by Debbie

A scammer can use AI (short for Artificial Intelligence) to clone the voice of your loved one. All he needs is a short audio clip of your family member's voice — which he could get from content posted online — and a voice-cloning program. When the scammer calls you, he sound just like your loved one.

If you get a call from a family member saying they're in trouble, don’t trust the voice. Call the person who is supposedly contacting you, and check out the story. Call with a phone number you know is theirs. If you can’t reach your loved one directly, try to contact them through another family member or their friends.

If the caller says to wire money, send cryptocurrency, or buy gift cards and give them the card numbers and PINs, those are often signs of a scam. If you see this scam, please tell the FTC at www.ReportFraud.ftc.gov.

Mirta
April 04, 2024

I am 73 years old and really appreciate the support and information you provide.I was almost a victim. The scammers use the action of surprise to involve you .I read and inform my friends .Thanks

Emily
April 05, 2024

It would help if when you call to report a scam you were able to speak with someone instead of going through 10 minutes of recordings and still not being able to talk to someone

L C
April 08, 2024

Who knew that BAnk Of America would allow someone to add themselves to an account, report fraud, close access to my funds and never tell the actual owner of the accout!
Go figure that such a large bank would allow this to happen, never inform and then never resolve. ( I just received a statement with the imposters name on it)
I had to run circles between social security and the bank, make an apointment that my daughter had to take time off work to open a new account. Oh, and by the way they charged me $30 for 30 checks!
Way to go Bank of America!

Julia LaFontaine
April 08, 2024

Really, really appreciate your valuable information. I get 70-100 e-mails a day; most are 'delete delete delete' just seeing the sender or subject line, but YOURS I always read. Maybe not all, some don't apply to me, but I've learned so much that keeps me from getting 'taken'. ... One of the worst was that "Yes" answer they want from you; we're so programmed to say that in such a context that it can be hard to re-train ourselves. Of course, I normally don't answer calls unless they're numbers I've associated a name with, and 90% don't leave a voicemail - those that do are usually about appointments I've made.
Anyway, just wanted to say how valuable your Consumer Alerts are, and how grateful I am that you're trying to keep us safe. THANKS.

Cb
April 08, 2024

Oil & Gas scam

Got a phone call about Oil & Gas investment

My first words to caller was
"Really" and hung up

DrGeorge Adams
April 08, 2024

The SSA is Is driving me crazy cause I get so many emails all day long..

C Rodriguez
April 15, 2024

This information is great, but what about candidates impersonating a US citizen allowed to work remotely from the USA - only to find out the person is working from Belgium, Uganda or other. Background check agencies are failing US companies. Scammers are smarter than the system.