What are some common types of scams?
Scammers are constantly finding new ways to steal your money. You can protect yourself by knowing what to look out for.
Debt collection scams
Most debt collectors will contact you to collect on legitimate debts you owe. But there are scammers who pose as debt collectors to get you to pay for debts you don’t owe or that have already been paid. Do not give any personal financial information until you can verify the debt. You can use this sample letter to request more information. Read more about the warning signs.
Debt settlement and debt relief scams
Debt settlement companies say they can renegotiate, settle, or in some way change the terms of a person’s debt to a creditor or debt collector. The FTC offers information about when a debt settlement offer may be a scam.
Foreclosure relief scams
Foreclosure relief or mortgage loan modification scams are schemes to take your money or your house – often by making a false promise of saving you from foreclosure.
If you are having trouble making payments on your mortgage, a HUD-approved housing counselor can help you assess your options and avoid scams. If you think you may have been a victim of a foreclosure relief scam, you may also want to consult an attorney. Read more about foreclosure relief scams.
If you get a call from someone who sounds like a grandchild or relative asking you to wire or transfer money or send gift cards to help them out of trouble, it could be a scam. Read more about other ways to protect older adults from fraud and financial exploitation.
Imposter scammers try to convince you to send money by pretending to be someone you know or trust like a sheriff, local, state, or federal government employee, or charity organization. Remember, caller ID can be faked. You can always call the organization or government agency and ask if the person works for them before giving any money. Read more about imposter scams.
Mail fraud letters look real but the promises are fake. A common warning sign is a letter asking you to send money or personal information now to receive something of value later. Read more.
Mortgage closing scams
Mortgage closing scams target homebuyers who are nearing the closing date on their mortgage loan. The scammer attempts to steal the homebuyer’s closing funds—for example, their down payment and closing costs—by sending the homebuyer an email posing as the homebuyer’s real estate agent or settlement agent (title company, escrow officer, or attorney). Read more.
Lottery or prize scams
Scammers will call or email congratulating you on being a winner with an ask for an upfront payment for fees and taxes. Similarly, a scammer might ask you to pay money in advance to get sweepstakes prize winnings. Read more.
Wire or money transfer fraud
Scammers use money wire transfers to steal your money. One example of a wire transfer fraud is the “grandparent scam.”
Once a money transfer is picked up, there is very little you can do to get your money back. If someone you don’t know asks you to wire money, this is a red flag. Read more.
To report a scam, you can submit a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission. Other options include contacting your local police or sheriff’s office or your state attorney general to report the scam. Visit the National Association of Attorneys General for the contact information of each state attorney general.