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How can I protect myself and others I care about from fraud and scams?

There are several steps you can take to protect yourself and others from fraud and scams.

Criminals and con artists use many scams to target unsuspecting people who have access to money. Consumer scams happen on the phone, through the mail, e-mail, or over the internet. They can occur in person, at home, or at a business.

Here are some tips to protect yourself from scams:

  • Don’t share numbers or passwords for accounts, credit cards, or
    Social Security.
  • Never pay up front for a promised prize. It’s a scam if you are told that you must pay fees or taxes to receive a prize or other financial windfall.
  • After hearing a sales pitch, take time to compare prices. Ask for information in writing and read it carefully.
  • Too good to be true? Ask yourself why someone is trying so hard to give you a “great deal. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
  • Watch out for deals that are only “good today” and that pressure you to act quickly. Walk away from high-pressure sales tactics that don’t allow you time to read a contract or get legal advice before signing. Also, don’t fall for the sales pitch that says you need to pay immediately, for example by wiring the money or sending it by courier.
  • Put your number on the National Do Not Call Registry. Go to or call (888) 382-1222.

Take a look at other Ask CFPB questions regarding financial scams or check the FTC’s website to stay up-to-date on the most recent scams.

For more information, take a look at this guide that provides more information and tips to help prevent common scams and other types of elder financial exploitation. If you manage someone else’s money, take a look at this information to help you understand your duties as a financial caregiver, and what to do to protect the person you care for from scams.