Good Investments
that are Right for You

Signs of a Scam and How to Resist It

Silhouette of hacker with laptop at table on dark background

Although scammers often target older people, younger people who encounter scams are more likely to lose money to fraud, perhaps because they have less financial experience. When older people do fall for a scam, however, they tend to have higher losses.¹

Regardless of your age or financial knowledge, you can be certain that criminals are hatching schemes to separate you from your money — and you should be especially vigilant in cyberspace. In a financial industry study, people who encountered scams through social media or a website were much more likely to engage with the scammer and lose money than those who were contacted by telephone, regular mail, or email.²

Here are four common practices that may help you identify a scam and avoid becoming a victim.³

Scammers pretend to be from an organization you know.

They might claim to be from the IRS, the Social Security Administration, or a well-known agency or business. The IRS will never contact you by phone asking for money, and the Social Security Administration will never call to ask for your Social Security number or threaten your benefits. If you wonder whether a suspicious contact might be legitimate, contact the agency or business through a known number. Never provide personal or financial information in response to an unexpected contact.

Scammers present a problem or a prize.

They might say you owe money, there’s a problem with an account, a virus on your computer, an emergency in your family, or that you won money but have to pay a fee to receive it. If you aren’t aware of owing money, you probably don’t. If you didn’t enter a contest, you can’t win a prize — and you wouldn’t have to pay for it if you did. If you are concerned about your account, call the financial institution directly. Computer problems? Contact the appropriate technical support. If your “grandchild” or other “relative” calls asking for help, ask questions only the grandchild/relative would know and check with other family members.

Scammers pressure you to act immediately.

They might say you will “miss out” on a great opportunity or be “in trouble” if you don’t act now. Disengage immediately if you feel any pressure. A legitimate business will give you time to make a decision.

Scammers tell you to pay in a specific way.

They may want you to send money through a wire transfer service or put funds on a gift card. Or they may send you a fake check, tell you to deposit it, and send them money. By the time you discover the check was fake, your money is gone. Never wire money or send a gift card to someone you don’t know — it’s like sending cash. And never pay money to receive money.

For more information, visit consumer.ftc.gov/features/scam-alerts.

¹, ³) Federal Trade Commission, 2020
²) FINRA Investor Education Foundation, 2019

Other Recent Articles

What Does A Strong Dollar Mean For The U.S. Economy?

Every year, the College Board releases new college cost data and trends in its annual report. The figures published are average cost figures based on a survey of approximately 4,000 colleges across the country.
college savings

College Cost Data: 2022-2023 School Year

Every year, the College Board releases new college cost data and trends in its annual report. The figures published are average cost figures based on a survey of approximately 4,000 colleges across the country.
social security

Myths And Facts About Social Security

Social Security is an important source of retirement income for most Americans. Here are the biggest myths and facts about Social Security, retirement savings, and pension.

Other Articles Related to:

Common Factors Affecting Retirement Income

When it comes to planning for your retirement income, it's easy to overlook some of the common factors that can affect how much you'll have available to spend. If you don't consider how your retirement income can be impacted by investment risk, inflation risk, catastrophic illness or long-term care, and taxes, you may not be able to enjoy the retirement you envision.

All About Credit Scores

It's difficult to imagine functioning in today's world without credit. Whether buying a car or purchasing a home, credit has become an integral part of our everyday lives. Having easy access to credit goes hand in hand with having a good credit score, so it's important to know how to maintain a positive credit score and credit history.
cost of college

New College Cost Data for 2021-2022 Academic Year

Losing a loved one can be a difficult experience. Yet, during this time, you must complete a variety of tasks and make important financial decisions. You may need to make final arrangements, notify various businesses and government agencies, settle the individual's estate, and provide for your own financial security. The following checklist may help guide you through the matters that must be attended to upon the death of a family member.