Skip to main content

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. 

ReportFraud.ftc.gov

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.

If someone claims there’s fraud or criminal activity on one of your accounts, and tells you to move money from your bank, investment, or retirement account to “protect it”, it’s a scam.

Scammers pretend to be someone you can trust and say they’ve discovered a problem with one of your accounts. Then they ask for your verification code to get into your account. It’s a scam.

 

 

Scammers try to trick you into transferring your money to “protect” or “safeguard” or “legalize” it. If you do, your bank won’t get it back from the scammer.


 

Scammers say and do things that can tell us they’re lying. Here are some sure ways to recognize a scammer.


 

The 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 who wants you to drain your accounts.


 

Someone says they’re from the government and tells you to “protect” your money by making a deposit at a Bitcoin ATM. Stop. It’s a scam.

The latest tech support scams: scammers tell you someone hacked your bank or investment account and is using it for fraud. And they pretend to transfer you to a government agency for “help.” But it’s all a scam.

Government Impersonators

The phone rings. Your caller ID says it’s the Social Security Administration. You hesitate. You’re not expecting a call from them, and you’ve heard about impersonation scams. But something inside you makes you pick up. And everything you’re about to hear is designed to scare you into doing whatever the caller says.

Image
3 Things Scammers Say. 1. Scammers tell you to move your money to protect it. 2. Scammers say you have to get cash and drop it off. 3. Scammers tell you to buy gold and give it to a courier. Don’t do it. It’s a scam.


 

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.

Image
The FTC won’t demand you pay by bank or wire transfer, with cryptocurrency, with gift cards. Only scammers do that. Report impersonators at ReportFraud.ftc.gov

 

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 from government agencies like the FTC, Social Security Administration, and  IRS — or say they're calling about your Medicare benefits.
Offers of free money from government grants are 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.

Watch

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 ReportFraud.ftc.gov

Looking for information for older adults? 

Check out ftc.gov/PassItOn