Common Scams

Account Confirmation/Service Scams

They often take the form of a telephone call, email message, or SMS message from a what seems to be a legitimate company asking for the recipient to provide their personal or account information to address an issue concerning their account (“we suspect an unauthorized transaction”, “your debit card has been deactivated, to reactivate…”, “we are conducting our regular account verification process”, etc.). The recipient is asked to provide the information directly over the phone, or in the case of email and SMS, directed to a fraudulent website or customer service number.

Check Cashing Scams

There are a number of variations to this scheme, but regardless of how it is presented the basic request from the fraudster will be for the recipient to deposit a check for the sender and wire them the proceeds. In exchange for their effort, the recipient is told to keep a portion of the check. Inevitably the check will be returned as counterfeit and the recipient will be liable for the full amount of the check.

Sweetheart Scams

Also known as a romance scam, this is a scam in which a fraudster develops a romantic relationship with their victim. Eventually, the fraudster requests money or personal information. This con is most notably used on online dating sites.

Lottery Scams

The fraudster will send the victim an official looking email stating they have won a foreign lottery. To collect the prize, the recipient is asked to wire funds to cover various taxes and processing fees associated with the lottery.

Work-at-Home Scams

In this scenario the victim will respond to a work-at-home employment offer. Most of the offers will take the form of an invoice or payroll processing position that only requires an active bank account. The fraudster will move funds into the victim’s account with instructions to wire portions of those funds to pay “vendors”. An alternate version has the fraudster requesting that the victim wire funds to cover onboarding and training costs for the new position.

Tech Support Scams

The fraudster will present themselves to the victim as technical support for a well-known software or hardware vendor. The fraudster will convince the victim to provide access to their computer, to unknowingly install malicious software or to provide credit card information for payment. A variation of this scam involves the victim receiving a pop-up message alerting the victim to a virus and asking them to install free security scanning software to remove the virus, again resulting in the victim installing malicious software on their computer.

Additional Resources

Learn more about hot to privacy and security

Tips on Preventing Fraud

How to Report Fraud

The FBI has a website called, "Common fraud schemes," that details new or emerging criminal activity.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) also provides information related to computer security and common scams.

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