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The FTC will never threaten you, say you must transfer your money to “protect it,” or tell you to withdraw cash or buy gold and give it to someone. That’s a scam. Report it.

Anatomy of an Imposter Scam

Our “Anatomy of an Imposter Scam” blog series breaks down how to recognize, avoid, and report business and government imposter scams.

Never move your money to "protect it." It's a scam.

People are losing big money to scammers running complicated scams. The scams usually involve someone supposedly spotting fraud or criminal activity on one of your accounts, offering to help “protect” your money, sometimes asking you to share verification codes, and always telling you to move money from your bank, investment, or retirement account. And every bit of it is a scam.

Anyone who asks you for your account verification code is a scammer. Never share it.

When you log into your bank or credit card account, you might get a text message or email with a verification code. You then enter it at the login screen to confirm it’s really you. That’s a form of two-factor authentication that adds a layer of security to your account — and keeps would-be scammers and hackers out.


Scammers want to isolate you from people you know and trust. Never agree to keep a secret.

We expect banks and brokers to keep our money safe. We think they’ll stop or warn us about suspicious transfers out of our accounts. But do they? Scammers are exploiting that trust and getting people to transfer their money and drain their retirement accounts to “protect” or “safeguard” or “legalize” it. The truth? The money gets stolen, and banks and brokers won’t get it back from the scammer.


If someone says, “Don’t trust anyone. They’re in on it” it’s a scam.

Scammers say and do things that can tell us they’re lying — and they’re not who they pretend to be. Of course, to hear or see those clues, we have to get past the panic scammers make us feel, thanks to the so-called emergencies they try to create. And since scammers are convincing, that can be hard to do. But recent scams are costing people their life savings, so here are some sure ways to spot the scammer.


Did you get a call about suspicious activity in your Amazon account? It’s a scam. Hang up.

One way to spot a scam is to understand its mechanics. A new and complicated scam starts with a call or text message about a suspicious charge on your Amazon account. But it’s not really Amazon. It’s a scammer with an elaborate story about fraud using your identity that ends with you draining your bank or retirement accounts.


A pop-up says to call tech support? That’s a scam.

As we continue our deep dive into imposter scams, we’re taking a look at a new twist on tech support scams. A warning pops up on your computer. It says your computer has a virus and gives you a number to call for help.

Did someone send you to a Bitcoin ATM? It’s a scam.

Is there a legit reason for someone to send you to a Bitcoin ATM? The short answer is NO. Will someone from the government send you to a Bitcoin ATM? NEVER. If you’ve followed this Anatomy of a Scam series, you know there’s more to it than that.

Recognize Government Impersonators
The FTC won’t demand you pay by bank or wire transfer, with cryptocurrency, with gift cards. Only scammers do that. Report impersonators at

Many impersonation schemes start with a call about a routine problem, like suspicious activity in your Amazon account. But in a new twist, the story quickly takes a more serious turn when you’re told someone is using your information to commit crimes and all your money is at risk.


Scammers want to gain your trust. That’s why they keep pretending to work for government agencies, including the Federal Trade Commission. They might use the names of real FTC employees, but the stories they tell are a bunch of lies.

Scammers pretend to be calling you from government agencies like the Social Security Administration and the IRS. Or say they work for Medicare. They say that if you don’t pay or you refuse to give them your personal information, something bad will happen. Or maybe you’ll miss out on some government benefit. But it’s a scam. Learn the signs and avoid the scam.

Offers of free money from government grants are scams. Someone might offer you a grant to pay for education, home repairs, home business expenses, or unpaid bills. But they’re all scams. Here’s how to avoid a government grant scam, and how to report it.

Business and Other Impersonators

Tech support scammers want you to pay them to fix a non-existent computer problem. Learn how to avoid and report tech support scams.

Scammers are at it again, impersonating well-known businesses and trying to rip people off. This time they’re pretending to be from Geek Squad, Best Buy’s tech support service. Here’s what we’re hearing about the scam and what to do if you see it.

Scammers are calling people and using the names of two companies everyone knows, Apple and Amazon, to rip people off. Here’s what you need to know about these calls.

Someone calls or contacts you saying they’re a family member or close friend. They say they need money to get out of trouble. But check that there’s an emergency first because it could be a scammer calling.

Scammers strike up a relationship with you to build up trust, sometimes talking or chatting several times a day. Then, they make up a story and ask for money. Learn how to avoid romance scams.

A call from your gas, electric, or water company threatening to immediately turn off your service is probably a scam. Here’s what you need to know.

Did you get a message from a “brand ambassador manager” for a national company wanting to pay you to promote their products online? It could be a scam…but how will you know?

We’re hearing about a new scam targeting food delivery drivers and restaurants.

If you’re looking for a job as a babysitter, nanny, or other kind of caregiver, you might have searched online or used a website that matches you up with potential employers. Scammers also use these sites. Learn how to spot these fake jobs and avoid them.


The first-person story of how one family responded to a family emergency scam: by putting it on the radio.

The first-person story about a retired business consultant’s tech support scam experience, what he did about it.

Caregiver websites can help you find jobs, but scammers also use them to find people to rip off.

Did you spot an impersonator scam? 

Report it at

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